The C-Suite’s Role in a Culture of Compliance

October 17, 2021

Every business owner knows that compliance is simply smart business practice. Adhering to industry compliance standards can help keep your employees safe and protect your company from some lawsuits! Additionally, some research suggests that a culture of compliance can make employees more productive!

But despite the promising research, many businesses place the onus of compliance onto lower-level employees. Entry-level workers are trained on compliance standards and middle managers are tasked with enforcing compliance within their teams, but the compliance focus more or less ends there.

Too often, compliance fails to be a priority for c-suite workers. In fact, a 2021 survey from Deloitte found that only 59 percent of companies have a dedicated Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), and only 57 percent of CCOs report directly to the chief executive or board.

If you want your business to truly be a compliance-focused operation, that culture of compliance must start from the very top — and that means the c-suite needs to talk the talk and walk the walk.

How the C-Suite Sets the Standard

You probably know the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.” This adage rings especially true for business; the actions of the leaders in your company will tell your employees — and the public — much more about your priorities than a mission statement ever could. Therefore, it’s important to have the higher-ups in your company encourage compliance with their actions.

Here are a few ways your c-suite can set a compliance standard.

Lead by example

One of the most important things your c-suite executives can do is model the culture of compliance at the office. If they take pains to show others that compliance matters to them, that will send ripple effects throughout the entire organization.

If you’re a member of the c-suite, make sure you are up to date on all compliance standards. Do everything you can to do your job in accordance with those standards, and make it known to your colleagues that this is a high priority.

Get board buy-in & support

Creating a compliant company involves everyone, from your newest intern to your most senior board member. Of course, the majority of your workforce doesn’t have the ear of the big players in your organization — but the c-suite does.

By emphasizing the importance of compliance and modeling it in their daily activities, your c-suite can convince the board to support your compliance efforts, which will benefit your business in the long run.

Coordinate and participate in training

We’ve already mentioned that most companies focus their compliance efforts on non-management workers. However, this system will not result in a company-wide culture of compliance. For that, everyone — including your top executives — need to be involved in compliance training.

The c-suite should be closely involved in the company’s compliance training program. This might mean that they help design the program, or it may simply mean that they receive training along with their employees. All that matters is that every member of your organization is fully trained and up to date on industry compliance issues.

Set business goals that align with compliance

Every business wants to see growth and success each quarter. However, if you want your company to be as ethical as it is successful, you need to make sure that your corporate goals are possible without becoming non-compliant. Make sure to consider compliance in your long-term business plans!

Eliminate fear in the workplace

The fear of retaliation is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for compliance issues in the workplace. This fear keeps victims from getting the help they need, and it also shields bad actors from any real consequences.

Your c-suite can help assuage workers’ fears by emphasizing how important it is to report incidents. You can also establish a third-party compliance hotline to guarantee that workers can speak out in their own time.

Find ways to instill pride in employees

Finally, your c-suite will be able to foster a culture of compliance if they have pride in it. Your executives need to think of your organization not just as their job, but as a noble work that impacts both their industry and the world. If they do, they will be more likely to take extra care and do everything they can to make sure your organization is always in compliance.

To learn more about compliance and how you can get everyone in your company on board with it, contact ComplianceLine today.