When your organisation fosters a culture of compliance with strong security mandates, it sets a standard for employees, customers and vendors to follow that becomes a part of everyday corporate life. Acting ethically promotes integrity and helps organisations gain trust from key stakeholders and investors. You may think it’s easier said than done. But there are several distinct ways to take steps to comply with relevant laws, policies and regulations. At Legility’s virtual Symposium 2020, the need for ethical compliance and security was the focus of a panel discussion led by legal experts with firsthand knowledge of how to create this culture. Moderated by Legility, the panel included Carlos Provencio and Eduardo Provencio, who are brothers as well as lawyers working in highly regulated industries. The key, they all agreed, was to make regulatory compliance, security and business ethics matters essential, unwavering activities.
They discussed why a culture of excellence was so needed in today’s organisational environment. Too many organisations have been trapped into cycles of noncompliance, litigation and arbitration sanctions, fines, spiralling legal disputes over lost or damaged evidence and continuing errors in judgement. The road to a culture of excellence is hard to achieve, but necessary to maintain.
This culture starts with having a legal and ethical framework created by leadership, clearly outlining the expectations for business conduct by everyone from employees to vendors. Then, it’s important to set up all the necessary best practices from the bottom up.
The panel noted that legal departments frequently need help setting up the best-possible plans for document retention, eDiscovery and preservation of evidentiary materials pertaining to compliance matters.
Preparing for success
The panel agreed that an organisation can only have a true culture of compliance if everyone within it is on board. In essence, there are five ways to create and maintain this culture:
- Always act as “the adults in the room”. Be the one that calls out ethical issues and act to stop them. Corporate counsel should learn to work with regulators truthfully and completely. Know which requirements you will need to work within. Leave no gray space for interpretation of ethics.
- Hire the right employees to grow with your business and earn their loyalty. Work with people you trust. You have to know that a legal team is addressing compliance issues on a daily basis. Create and maintain a stringent hiring practice where candidates must prove their knowledge of the industry they want to work within. In the interviewing process, learn how they would solve complex issues your legal teams have faced. Screen out candidates who cannot prove their potential worth. Then, when hired, monitor their progress, track their efficiency, and know their successes and failures. If you can’t bring on full-time litigators, consider flexible talent services for extending the reach of your legal team.
- Create, promote and maintain solid best practices. Train employees to do the right thing in every situation. The Symposium panel discussion frequently mentioned how important it was for leadership in an organisation to publicly demonstrate actions of integrity. You need to have standards and guidelines in place so that everyone follows the same procedures. Manage eDiscovery, preservation of evidentiary materials in the best manner possible so that there is NO question you have necessary materials to produce when needed to avoid fines and sanctions.
- Forge affiliations with vendors you trust. Many legal departments demand that outside counsel groups share the same security practices, devotion to ethics and inclusionary standards.
- Protect your reputation by acting ethically at every opportunity. Don’t just settle cases because it is less expensive or easier on the team. Fight when you are right and don’t just focus on the bottom line. Put in place rules to manage multiple jurisdictions whenever necessary. Know what you need to comply with and how to protect information you already have. Work with vendors that support your goals and harmonise your work processes. Publish all necessary ethical guidelines and make no exceptions about sticking to them from the top down. If regulators know you’re acting ethically, they will work with you, not against you. Remember that ethical issues create issues all throughout the organisation.