For years, LeadGood has broken new ground on training and communications that moves the needle on reporting. Our bespoke courses, innovative approaches and hands-on consulting have helped many organizations and leaders — from the Fortune 100 to government to education — effectively foster a speak-up culture.
I’m a big supporter of being assertive and speaking up. I’m a former journalist in a family of journalists. I started out as a first amendment lawyer. And as a compliance professional I work to help businesses encourage speaking-up in their ranks, as a powerful tool for both operational and ethical excellence. (So I’m super proud of my new article on training that encourages reporting, written with Amy McDougal, JD, CCEP, CA for the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics.)
But I am not a big fan of terms like “cancel culture.” These days there are soap boxes aplenty. The issue is more, who is really listening? And is that talk seeking truth, or just victory? It’s complicated, right?
These were the topics I was proud to discuss with an insightful, civil and politically diverse panel that tried to get to the heart of our freedom to speak up in the current environment. The panel was presented by Thomson Reuters on March 25, 2021. This is the second time TR honored me with a request to talk about this critical topic.
Monday, September 14, 5:00 PM CDT: “The Trouble with Moral Relativism” – I’ll be leading an advanced discussion group at the SCCE Institute about the attitudinal trends represented in increasingly popular thoughts like, “It’s all good,” or “Who can tell – they’re all lying.” We’ll talk about whether this growing normative agnosticism creates unstable ground beneath the foundation of corporate compliance programs and any attempt at ethical leadership.
Tuesday, September 15, 10:15 AM CDT: “Speak-Up Success: Training and Communications to Truly Encourage Reporting and Reduce Retaliation.”– I will lead this workshop at the Institute, along withAmy McDougal and OSI’sChris Cook about practical and effective ways to generate a Speak-up Culture.
And by the way: If my Compliance and Ethics Institute remarks sound interesting to you, then tune in to my next “Powering the Pandemic Pivot” webinar, Wednesday, September 24, 12:00 Noon ET,where I’ll try to share what I learn at this year’s Institute about fostering Company Culture.
We have a timely present for your business or organization.
I was chatting last week with several of my good friends in the compliance sector: Nicole Rose of CreateTraining, the Australia-based education and training company that has produced several powerful animations for LeadGood clients; Richard Bistrong of CEO Front-Line Anti-Bribery LLC, the well-known anti-bribery consultant and speaker; and my frequent colleague and project partner Amy McDougal, JD, CCEP, of CLEAResources, a leading compliance program consultant. We share a deep belief, borne of professional experience, in the power of shared values to inspire people to do great things.
We found we also shared a desire to use what we do at work to somehow help organizations respond to the Coronavirus in a different, honest, but inspiring way — acknowledging that we are in it for the long-haul, and that for as long as it takes, we will have each others’ backs.
The result is this video, which we now offer to you to use as much as you want, however you see fit. Think of it as a video greeting card you can send to your teams, clients, and community. Consider yourself licensed to use it as you wish, to shorten it, to add your own message or logo, to make it yours – please distribute it as broadly as you’d like, just keep the credits at the end. (Nicole is happy to do edits, etc., if you wish, and even to change the voiceover from my voice to her Australian lilt.)
If you want to use this video and need help downloading the file, just contact me and I’ll be delighted to assist.
We hope this video helps your business say what you’re thinking to the people you care about, and and it helps us all stay steadfast.
On Tuesday morning, September 17, Amy McDougal and I will update and reprise our presentation on “Compliance by Contract – Drafting and Negotiating Terms for Peer-to-Peer Compliance.” (It was a big hit when we last did it a few years back.) When you negotiate a commercial contract that includes terms about compliance — whether with customers, contractors, vendors or suppliers — the right terms can boost your own C&E program, and the wrong terms can undermine it. So we’ll share our experiences as lawyers and compliance pros, exchange pitfalls and engage in facilitated exercises. The goal: getting everyone better at closing good deals that support great compliance programs
Then on Wednesday, September 18, I’ll be leading a workshop on Counseling Compliance in Small to Medium Sized Organizations. which make up 97% of US companies. We will explore the unique challenges (and opportunities) of compliance leadership in SMBs — and nonprofits and governments — where budgets and headcount are limited, processes informal, and executive power dominant. The workshop will take place from 10:15 to 11:45.
If you work in compliance or ethical leadership, you’ll get a real charge from the colleagues and camaraderie at #SCCEcei. Hope you can see it!
It’s been 20 years since the Supreme Court rulings in Faragher and Ellerth made corporate anti-harassment efforts routine, yet there are more headlines than ever about blatant acts of harassment, especially among corporate and cultural leaders. Sharing research and our collective experience, this workshop will focus on training, policies and culture-building, to explore why we have failed in preventing harassment, where we have engaged, and how we can elevate behavior. One critical focus will be retaliation vs. a “speak-up” culture, including best practices for creating, maintaining, and getting management support for an Open Work Environment.
Then on Monday, October 21, Amy and I will return to present a discussion on “Counseling compliance in small to medium sized businesses.”
Businesses with under 100 employees make up 97% of US companies, and headlines show they are at least as prone to compliance-related failures as the Fortune 2000. But “SMBs” are unlikely to have a CCO or even GC. So the task of leading and counseling compliance falls to other professionals, including HR and outside counsel. In this panel, Amy and I will explore the unique challenges of compliance leadership in SMBs, where budgets may be limited, processes informal, and executive power dominant. We’ll share experiences, including ways to use regular operational processes as tools to promote compliance, and to use the strong culture in these companies to their ethical advantage.
The idea for this panel was inspired in part by the Charlie Rose episode, which even though it involves a major TV star, is really a failure of small business compliance. Rose’s production company had no HR department, only a executive producer who among other duties may have tended to enable rather than check her “CEOs” misconduct. Our hope is that this panel will be of particular appeals to HR professionals and the “compliance lawyer.”
I’m also very excited that I have been asked to moderate a panel at the upcoming UIDP26 Conference in San Jose, CA.UIDP is the University-Industry Demonstration Partnership, an organization that considers university-industry (U-I) relations and opportunities to develop new approaches to how academia and business can work together. The panel is entitled: “Ethics and Compliance 2018: a University-Industry Dialogue.“
From #MeToo to campus speech to AI to perceived conflicts of interest, concerns about ethics are now even more a part of daily life at companies, colleges and universities alike. For both sides, this concern is only more heightened when it comes to their partnerships with other institutions. (Who are your partners, and what do they appear to stand for?) In this panel, ethics and compliance professionals from academia and industry will share their respective points of view and current concerns. The goal will be for attendees to understand better not just what their partner needs their institution to do, but how it hopes they will do it.
An advance workshop on drafting and negotiating contracts with compliance provisions — this would take the next step from the compliance contract panels that Amy and I did at the CEI in 2014 and this year.
“The Good Reasons Why People Do the Wrong Things” — Exploring the frequent instances when people follow their own ethical code and choose to break rules. (Think about teachers or nurses following their deep ethic of care.) The lesson: it’s not just greed or “bad guys” that lead to misconduct.
“Fostering a Speak-Up Culture: What Really Works” — Now more than ever, it’s critical for compliance professionals and business leaders to focus on what, objectively, has worked best to foster and maintain a culture in which people report suspected wrongdoing freely, constructively, and internally. So how do you make that happen?
I wish they’d let us do all three of them! So tell me, what’s your favorite?
I wrote last month about concerns that the Justice Department may have gotten off to the wrong foot, tone-wise, following its “Yates Memo” declaration that it intended to prosecute individuals within companies for their organization’s wrongdoing.
But, as Mike Volkov so well summarizes, the top enforcer on this playing field quickly found a case with which to make its point. On October 29th, the DOJ announced a $125 Million criminal settlement with pharmaceutical company Warner Chilcott (once Galen, now Actavis). In the same breath, Justice also announced criminal charges against four company employees — including the company’s former president. According to the release, several other employees have already pled guilty or been indicted on criminal charges. The cases arise from Warner Chilcott’s payment of kickbacks to physicians to induce them to prescribe its drugs.
“Pharmaceutical company executives and employees should not be involved with treatment decisions or submissions to a patient’s insurance company. Today’s enforcement actions demonstrate that the government will seek not only to hold companies accountable, but will identify and charge corporate officials responsible for the fraud.”
Interesting, and not surprising, that Justice struck this blow in the healthcare industry. Pharma and Medical Technology have been the industries on the bleeding edge of enforcement (and internal compliance efforts) since the 90’s (at least).
In commenting on my earlier post about the tone being struck by the DOJ, Scott Killingsworth pointed out that “the DOJ will tell you what they are going to do, and then by golly they will do it.” I agreed, and I speculated that the Department must be “itching” to prosecute some company executives. Not that it took much in the way of powers of prediction, but it looks like we were right. Executives and companies who ignore the Yates Memo do so at their peril.
In honor of the end of baseball season, I am recalling (and revising) some thoughts I originally posted last fall— and adding some pictures. Hope this takes you out to the ball game.
By Wednesday, the Major League season will come to its last glorious inning. And this afternoon, my son will catch the last game of the year for his Babe Ruth League team, ending a long string of seasons and games that began in March. So
Doing what I do, every time I leave the clean white chalk powder on the rusty matte of the base paths, I think to myself, “Even here, even now, I’m leading compliance!”
Does that make me Mister Baseball Buzzkill? Yeah, maybe so. But I think there is a parallel between the Compliance Officer and the Groundskeeper.
I mean, compliance is in large part about winning while staying inside the lines. And for an organization, who paints those lines?
Government? Regulators? An industry Code? Your Code of Conduct? Sure, but not precisely.The Rules of the Game may specify that the foul line extends from the first base line and the third base line. But it is still the compliance team that has to paint the lines precisely.
To push my metaphor way too far, compliance leadership has to decide the slope of the base path, and the tendency of slow grounders to stay in bounds or to roll foul. And to abandon the realism of my metaphor, we have to decide whether to paint the lines on our own field with a little cushion, so minor fouls don’t really cross the legal line… or paint the lines wide, to give our organizations a bigger playing field but also a bigger risk of stumbling out of bounds.
But most of all, as compliance leaders we have to do the painting. The Rules may say where the foul line should be, but the players would be left to just guess what’s foul and what’s not if we didn’t draw an actual line that they can see while they are playing. Our teammates rely on our education programs, our communications, and our internal enforcement to know where the dividing line falls.
Frankly, I can think of times when my base lines left something to be desired, straightness-wise. The umpire might have checked to see how I drew the line (or he might not have), but once play began, he relied on the white line I put down in chalk. It’s a big responsibility.
So you can picture me standing out there today, superimposing all these philosophical musings about work onto our national pastime. Then you can picture my son pointedly reminding me that the game is about to begin, and that I need to get my carcass off the field, and help coach my players to success.
As compliance professionals and leadership counselors, we focus on “tone at the top.” What the C-Suite says is critical to establishing an ethical culture in an organization. What is even more important to foster that culture is whether top executives speak and act consistently. We advise our leaders that even one act of apparent hypocrisy, or of “looking the other way,” can undo a lot of cover-letters-with-Codes-of-Conduct.
With this perspective, I commend to you two recent blog posts by fellow compliance lawyers, about the tone coming from the very top, compliance wise: the Department of Justice.
One is Mike Scher’s post this week in the FCPA Blog about the DOJ’s findings that downplay the alleged corruption violations by WalMart in Mexico.
At the SCCE’s annual Compliance and Ethics Institute earlier this month, I perceived a consensus of approval among the compliance community for the DOJ’s September 9th “Yates Memo,” in which Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillan Yates sought to send a strong message that the DOJ would henceforth be eager to prosecute culpable individuals for wrong-doing within the corporations they lead. There were many concerns (see this and this), yet the general thought seemed to be that the tone set by the Yates Memo would reinforce our efforts to get buy-in within our companies.
But Mike Volkov raises this concern: with the GM case (as now with WalMart), do the DOJ’s actions speak louder, tone-wise, than Yates’ words?