For companies who operate in many jurisdictions, one of the major challenges of growing into a global company is ensuring compliance with many different local laws, regulations, rules, and customs. It is an ongoing effort to manage as the business expands. Following are 10 tips for a good global compliance program. We discuss these areas briefly to spur discussion within your company about what you already have in place and if not, what should be done as soon as possible.
1. Company-wide communication
The essence of a good compliance program is effective communication, to alert employees in advance of any changes, and on a regular basis. Employees at every level in the company must understand the importance of the policies that are implemented and the potential penalties and other risks that can befall them — and the company — if they do not comply.
2. One message
The message must be the same throughout the company no matter which location. Compliance programs do not work if the standard in one location is different from the standard in another location, or enforcement only depends on physical location.
3. Monitor and manage compliance with appropriate resources
Compliance programs are costly. Monitoring compliance is not an inexpensive proposition. Management must understand up front the range of costs for implementation and ongoing compliance work. Employees also must understand that compliance is a priority. They will take it more seriously if significant time and appropriate resources are dedicated.
4. Plan and pilot your program
The best compliance programs are tested first in a smaller pilot program before rolling out to a wider audience. Plan carefully with concrete objectives and make sure that your plan works before you take it company-wide.
5. Local engagement
It is essential to engage the local experts to ensure that your company’s best practices comply with the local rules and customs. Using the highest denominator will elevate your compliance program. It is best for training to be taught in the local language and for compliance materials to be translated to the local language.
6. Information gathering and technology
Although there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings, computer tools can enhance and ensure a robust compliance program. Computer tools can be used to screen and flag potential problems. They are also necessary to gather, review, and analyze compliance performance.
7. Analyze the metrics
Using the data gathered, you must periodically review the program to understand what is working and what needs to be fixed.
8. Notify and train employees every time changes are made
Good training and notice to the employees in advance of changes is essential to an effective compliance program. You must find a way to communicate to employees in a language they understand. Compliance programs should be explained in business terms, and when possible, include the positive effects on the business.
Compliance programs that work are collaborative efforts across different offices and different departments. When employees are personally vested, they will work harder to get others on board, too.
10. Evaluate and refine
Take time to periodically review the programs in place and check them against trends and best practices in your industry and locations. A good compliance program is never stagnant.