Compliance Training – Part II: Risk Ranking and Design

von Wolf M. Nietzer

Yesterday I began what I thought would be a two-part series on compliance training.However, or perhaps more accurately, as usual, I got carried away so I am now off on a multi-part series on how to design, implement and assess an effective compliance and ethics training program.

This series was inspired by an article in Slate, entitled “Ethics Trainings Are Even Dumber Than You Think”, by L.V. Anderson. Her article was generally dismissive of compliance and ethics training, panning it as a mere ‘check-the-box’ exercise so corporations could use it as a CYA defense if any government regulators ever came looking. In spite of her dismissive attitude, she did have some useful nuggets that you should incorporate into your Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance program.

The communication of your anti-corruption compliance program is something that must be done on a regular basis to help ensure its effectiveness. The FCPA Guidance explains, “Compliance policies cannot work unless effectively communicated throughout a company. Accordingly, Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will evaluate whether a company has taken steps to ensure that relevant policies and procedures have been com­municated throughout the organization, including through periodic training and certification for all directors, officers, relevant employees, and, where appropriate, agents and business partners.” Viewed from the perspective of what a company needs to do to work towards ensuring compliance and ethical behavior, training can be seen as a communications tool. But it should only be seen as one tool.

Anderson stated that for compliance training to be effective its needs to risk-based in its focus. This means employees with highest risk of exposure to bribery and corruption need to receive the highest levels of training and refreshers ...

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