FCPA: What is Your Compliance Strategy?

Do you have a strategy? The Houston Astros claim to have a strategy that involves being the worst team in baseball for up to the next five years and then magically they will become a winner. I suppose that having the worst record in baseball demonstrates that they are on the right path. Another three game series, another three game sweep by the visiting team, thus ending three games of some of the most pathetic baseball I have ever seen. However, even the ever-optimistic Astros manager, Bo Porter, admitted in an interview to the Houston Chronicle last week that “He has no idea if the Astros’ rebuilding plan will work.”

Now suppose you are in management, though not in the Houston Astros where you are implementing a strategy to set the all-time season record for losses, but a successful compliance program. How can you go about it? While most companies have compliance programs, they do not have a compliance strategy. To endure, a compliance strategy must address the interests of all stakeholders: investors, employees, customers, governments, NGOs, and society at large. A compliance strategy should increase shareholder value while at the same time improve the firm’s performance on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) dimensions. These concepts were recently explored in an article on sustainability in the May issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR), article entitled “The Performance Frontier”. I found the concepts that the authors Robert G. Eccles and George Serafeim put forth, translate into the compliance arena as well.

The basic posit is that corporate investments in compliance do not necessarily require trade-offs in financial performance. Instead, if a company will focus on the issues that are the most relevant to both risk and shareholder value, a company should be able to boost both financial value and compliance performance. The authors believe that to do so, companies should focus on four areas.

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