Culture for Breakfast: Insights on Creating a Culture of Compliance
There is a saying, sometimes attributed to famed management consultant Peter Drucker, that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Jumping off from that quote, in-house counsel and lawyers in private practice offered lessons from their own experience at the ACI FCPA Conference late yesterday during a panel discussion on “Corporate Culture in Uncertain Times—Influencing Employee Conduct Amid Intensifying Risks and Business Pressures.”
Some of the insights we thought worth sharing include:
- Don’t rely on long documents to communicate about compliance; in a “TikTok” world, where employees (especially younger employees) are used to consuming content in the form of short videos and memes, bite-sized compliance messages can be effective.
- Don’t just focus on “tone at the top”; pay attention to the tone at the middle and every other level of the organization.
- Don’t just talk about compliance; listen to what is happening on the ground.
- Try to understand why corners may be cut and how to help employees not cut corners.
- Try to set the right tone with employees from the very start (e.g., by asking questions about integrity during job interviews).
- Normalize the process of proactively reaching out to compliance and ethics professionals for advice, not just when something goes wrong.
- Consider rebranding internal hotlines as something friendlier sounding to make clear it is not just for whistleblowing or emergencies.
- Because culture is rarely monolithic (especially in a global organization), it often needs to be fostered at the local level, with buy-in from local stakeholders.
To quote another over-used saying, “there is no one size fits all.” Different organizations will benefit from different approaches to creating a culture of compliance. But everyone on the panel seemed to agree that culture matters—and that it can eat strategy for breakfast.
© Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP 2022 All Rights Reserved. This blog post is intended to be a general summary of the law and does not constitute legal advice. You should consult with counsel to determine applicable legal requirements in a specific fact situation.