Book Review: How to Be a Wildly Effective Compliance Officer (Kristy Grant-Hart)

Book Review: How to Be a Wildly Effective Compliance Officer (Kristy Grant-Hart)

In my interview with Kristy Grant-Hart after reading her book, I found both the book and our discussion highly informative.  She is an in-the-trenches stalwart of compliance best practices and has penned a book, which gives the reader a bounty of best practices, ideas, and tips related to the role of the Compliance Officer.  While Ms. Grant-Hart’s primary audience for the book is obviously Compliance Officers, I believe anyone who is in the business of compliance, ethics, and employment law in an organization will get tremendous value, e.g., HR, Legal, IT, and executives.

Selfishly, as a Director of Marketing for an online compliance training company, Syntrio, I wanted to be able to get inside the head of Compliance Officers so that I could market and sell to that target audience better.   And How to Be a Wildly Effective Compliance Officer has helped me there too.

And We're Off

After an inspirational Foreword by Joe Murphy, the book contains eleven chapters, which build on each other to cumulate in a powerful set of tools for the Compliance Officer, or those soon to be Compliance Officers or those who want to know the role of the Compliance Officer better.

The first several chapters of the book help you get inside the Compliance Officer’s stakeholder heads and using their motivators to influence them to make the right decisions.  As a sales and marketing person, I find this approach refreshing.  In sales, there isn’t just a sales person pitching.  There is a buyer or buyers who must be persuaded to do what the sales person (Compliance Officer) wants him or her or the team to do.   The four primary motivators are Fear for Self, Fear for the Business, Noble Cause, and Competitive Edge.  Ms. Grant-Hart does a great job defining each of these and how to use them.

If you think senior leaders in organizations have all the power, you might be mistaken.  All organizations have the named power and covert power.  In other instances, I have called this positional power and market mavens, but I really like the moniker the author uses.   Strategically working with those with covert power who are aligned with the named power while focusing on the organization’s primary motivators is a trifecta of leverage, which will net positive results.

In addition to the already mentioned best practices, Chapter Three contains a Compliance Officer Risk Matrix, with a “Readiness for Change,” axis and a “Need for Change,” access.  With a series of questions, the Compliance Officer can tell where their organization stands on the Risk Matrix.  The author then provides specific recommendations for each of the four quadrants and how to up-level the compliance program, wherever you might be starting from.  I personally love books that provide these kinds of pragmatic tools, which you can start to use immediately.

Measure Twice - Cut Once

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” is an old but true business adage.  In Chapter Four, the author provides a variety of ways that Compliance Officers can show their leadership how well the compliance program is faring.  Like the previous chapter, Ms. Grant-Hart provides a practical set of prospective compliance program measures, including a great sample of a Compliance Dashboard, which can be reported on monthly, quarterly, and annually.   If your leadership doesn’t know the results of your good compliance work, how can they support it with the requisite resources?  This is a key role for any Compliance Officer.

Compliance Officers can often be associated with negativity and criticality.  In Chapter Five, the author provides a plethora of tactics that can help overcome these potential perceptions.  If you aren’t approachable, and employees and staff cannot talk openly with you, your effectiveness may be lessened.   I found Chapter Five to be one of my favorites and the tips Kristy provides in here are very easy-to-implement, yet powerful.

Have you ever worked with an in-your-face salesperson who wouldn’t let you speak or ask questions or raise objections?  Do you remember how annoying that was?  Chapter Six is about the art of listening how powerful this skill is for anyone in the sales (think Compliance Officer) role.  The more you listen to your clients.  The more open-ended questions you ask your clients.  The more they will share with you.  This lets you pull together a solution, which will truly align with their primary motivators and their business needs.  AND, it minimizes the chance of recommending the wrong solution(s).

In Chapter Seven, the reader is exposed to some higher-level persuasion techniques.  Note that ALL sales are about making a persuasive argument.  The author introduces some concepts, which can help the Compliance Officer get the desired end result.  These include the appropriate use of fear (and follow-up actions), the relationship between emotion and logic in the buying process, the power of asking for a favor, and the secret word that will make you 50% more persuasive.  You’ll need to read the book to see what that word is.

As a person who has been in a sales role, in one way or another, for the last 25 years, I really enjoyed Chapter Eight, “I’m the Expert.”  Think about it.  Especially when purchasing services or complex products, don’t you want to buy from an expert?   I have found being a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in your field can be a catalyst for sales.  This chapter provides plenty of ways the Compliance Officer can become an expert and with this drive more influence in the organization.  This includes activities such as writing articles, speaking at conferences, and seeking organizational compliance awards.

All professions have industry networks.   Compliance has a robust and growing network of associations, conferences, professional regional groups, etc., which can provide a great way to develop connections and relationships in your field.  In Chapter Nine, the author even includes some great ways to get the maximum mileage from any conference Compliance Officers attend.  There is nothing worse than paying thousands of dollars (conference fees, flights, hotels, per diem, etc.) and coming home empty handed.

Chapter Ten, which is the last chapter before the summary, helps Compliance Officers deal with some of the inevitable downs, they will experience as part of their careers.  Everyone will experience challenges, defeats, and even sometimes contemplate whether they are in the right role and/or company.  Ms. Grant-Hart provides a pragmatic Compliance Officer Decision Tree to help get the right answer about difficult compliance-related decisions.

In summary, this book provides me with everything I seek in a professional book:

  • Insights based on years of experience
  • Practical, easy-to-use tools
  • Methods for self-improvement
  • High return on my reading investment.

If you want to know how to be a better Compliance Officer or like me, you just want to know more about what makes a Compliance Officer tick, I highly recommend you get a copy of this book for yourself and your staff.


Do you have questions about your current compliance training program? Contact us and we can work with you to make recommendations to augment and/or improve your current offering.

Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!

 

Written by Darin Hartley, Director of Marketing, Syntrio, Inc.

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Explicitly Holds that Sexual Orientation Discrimination is Sex Discrimination Prohibited by Title VII

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Explicitly Holds that Sexual Orientation Discrimination is Sex Discrimination Prohibited by Title VII

April 4, 2017 will forever be seen as a landmark victory for gay rights advocates, as the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled in an 8-3 decision Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College, No. 15-1720 (7th Circuit April 4th, 2017) that sexual orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Compliance officers, employment attorneys, and human resources professionals (along with civil rights advocates and obviously LGBT employees) have long been seeking clarity on the issue of whether same-sex discrimination is prohibited under Title VII. Indeed, the EEOC has been prosecuting cases under Title VII on behalf of LGBT employees for several years, but neither the United States Supreme Court nor the United States Court of Appeals had explicitly decided the issue until yesterday.


Want to see a demo of Preventing Employment Discrimination for Managers & Supervisors?


The key takeaway from this decision is that the Seventh Circuit was very clear in its decision that sexual orientation discrimination is an illegal form of sex discrimination under Title VII. Within that Circuit, all federal courts are bound to follow the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Hively when deciding sexual orientation employment discrimination cases. Conversely, for future United States courts of appeals, there will be no need to draw inferences, as there is now clear persuasive authority from which to draw.

Despite the importance of Hively both within and outside the Seventh Circuit, nationally speaking federal law still cannot be considered settled on this issue, as the United States Supreme Court still has yet to weigh in. Therefore, in federal courts outside Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, the precedential value of Hively still is still persuasive rather than binding.

This means that a United States court of appeals in a more conservative circuit is still free to hold that sexual orientation discrimination does not violate Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination until there is a Supreme Court decision either affirming Hively or another similar case where the Supreme Court reaches that decision.

Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College Facts and Procedure

The Plaintiff in Hively was Kimberly Hively, an adjunct professor at Ivy Tech’s campus in South Bend, Indiana who began teaching there in 2000.  After applying unsuccessfully for at least six full-time positions between 2009 and 2014, Hively’s contract was not renewed in the summer of 2014. Subsequently, Hively filed an EEOC charge alleging that she was being blocked from full-time employment due to her sexual orientation. She received a right-to-sue letter from the agency and filed a lawsuit for sex discrimination under Title VII.


Interested in a demo of Workplace Harassment Prevention for Managers & Supervisors?


The United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana granted Ivy Tech’s motion to dismiss (for failure to state a claim of sex discrimination) with prejudice, and Hively appealed to the Seventh Circuit, which issued its opinion in her case late yesterday afternoon.

Seventh Circuit Analysis in Hively

Acknowledging that the United States Supreme Court has never considered the question of sexual orientation discrimination, the Seventh Circuit reversed the district court’s judgment and stated: “We conclude today that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination.” The Seventh Circuit opinion relied primarily on the United States Supreme Court decision in Price Waterhouse Coopers v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989) (holding that gender stereotyping falls within Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination); and Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Servs., Inc., 523 U.S. 75 (1998) (holding that same-sex harassment is illegal sex discrimination under Title VII).

In reaching its decision, the Seventh Circuit stated that the United States Supreme Court’s sidestepping the direct issue of whether sexual orientation discrimination is protected sex discrimination led to the Circuit courts (and the district court in this case) concluding that outdated precedent essentially required them to hold that it was settled law that sexual orientation discrimination was not illegal sex discrimination and that while that position was correct absent a direct holding from the Supreme Court or a Federal Court of Appeals the time was right to re-examine the issue.

The Hively Holding

Relying on the Supreme Court’s analysis in Price Waterhouse and Oncale, the court determined although Congress “may not have anticipated a particular application of the law cannot stand in the way of the provisions of the law that are on the books.” Therefore, the court found it impossible to extract sex stereotyping and same-sex harassment without also applying the same logic to sexual orientation discrimination just because the full scope of the term “sex” as a protected class was not necessarily contemplated by Congress when it drafted Title VII in 1964.


Check out a demo of Preventing Sexual Harassment for Managers


The court closed its analysis with the following [very explicit] language: “We hold only that a person who alleges that she experienced employment discrimination on the basis of her sexual orientation has put forth a case of sex discrimination for Title VII purposes.”

What Does the Seventh Circuit’s Decision in Hively Mean for Your Business?

If your company is subject to Title VII and is located in Illinois, Indiana, or Wisconsin it is now illegal under federal law to make employment decisions on the basis of their sexual orientation.  Sexual orientation discrimination was already illegal for all employees under the state laws of Illinois and Wisconsin and for state employees in Indiana, so legally speaking, not much changes today outside Indiana. 

That said, the majority of employment discrimination charges are filed under Title VII in the Seventh Circuit (rather than state charges) because it is procedurally easier for a Plaintiff to get into federal court in all three of those states than to go the state route. Now that the Seventh Circuit has made clear that sexual orientation discrimination is illegal in that Circuit it is very likely we will see a larger number of discrimination cases grounded in employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

For the rest of the country, Hively is certainly something to be aware of, and the case makes it clear that the tide has turned toward nationwide illegality of sexual orientation discrimination. Your company should already have a policy prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination regardless of its legal status in 2017 just for ethics purposes, and also should be training employees on the negative impact that any sort of employment discrimination can have. But on a more macro level the Hively decision on April 4, 2017, marks an enormous victory for LGBT rights advocates across the nation, as it is going to be extremely persuasive to circuit courts across the country. Likewise, this will likely be the impetus for the Supreme Court to rule on the issue, almost certainly in favor of LGBT employees.


 

Is your organization ready for the potential changes in employment law based on this case?  Contact us about your current compliance training program and we can work with you to make recommendations to augment and/or improve your current offering.

 

Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!

 

Written by Jon Gonzalez, Esq., Syntrio Advisory Board Member.

Why is Compliance Training out of Compliance?

Why is Compliance Training out of Compliance?

 

The Compliance Training Fantasy

In the fantasy world of corporate compliance, the training program is often implemented like the scenario below.

...typical compliance training isn't really about true behavioral change as it relates to compliance. It is more about getting the entire employee base checked off a list, so that leadership and the training organization can breathe a collective sigh, until next year's sheep dipping.

Sometime near the end of the year or the beginning of the year (fiscal or calendar), there is a drive to get all staff to take mandated compliance training on topics such as employment law, compliance, ethics, preventing sexual harassment, and other risk areas, etc. Because this training is done across the enterprise and larger corporations have tens of thousands of employees, traditional eLearning is usually the modality used to deliver this training. It is normally not well-designed, employees hate it, and the HR and HRIS or Compliance Training organizations spend hundreds if not thousands of staff hours tracking who has or who hasn't completed the training. This is key because typical compliance training isn't really about true behavioral change as it relates to compliance. It is more about getting the entire employee base checked off a list, so that leadership and the training organization can breathe a collective sigh, until next year's sheep dipping.

The Time-Compliance Conundrum

While some astronomically small percentage of the organizational population may actually enjoy "learning" this way, there is a major problem in the current mode of delivery. The chance of the employee needing the information or training to change behavior when it is provided is very small. Let's say I have taken a business ethics training course on December 12 of the year. Yay! I got my compliance training checked off. I can go on holiday break now and know that it is done and the CEO or Compliance Officer won't be calling me.

Here is the rub. I probably won't need the training or concepts contained in it until later in the next year, when I can no longer access the eLearning I took, or even search the concepts because the training is only available during the "compliance rush."

When you play well-designed video games, which truly reinforce behavior, by the way, and allow people to practice and fail in a safe environment, they use a technique called "progressive disclosure." Great game design says that you will get new skills in your portfolio at the time of need. This way you can really learn it and it becomes a part of your mental and muscle memory.

Imagine if you were taking a Basic Excel class and at the beginning of the second hour your instructor starts to teach Excel newbies about pivot tables. Not only does this not make sense...a beginner Excel user probably doesn't need to use pivot tables yet.

Stop the Madness

Is there a better way? Of course, there is. Compliance shouldn't be focused on once a year to check a box. It should be focused on 365 days a year, 24/7.  Syntrio's position on this is to have the training available year round, typically initially as part of new-hire onboarding, with annual updates on new requirements or content. The content assets should include a continuum of standard and Micro-learning, and they should be readily accessible from any company computer, smart phone, phablet, or tablet at the time of need. That way, when I have a question about compliance in May, I can quickly access it, potentially practice, and be better prepared for the real-life situation.  Register to see Syntrio's recorded Webinar (Best Practices for Online Ethics & Compliance Training in a Short-Attention-Span World, which covers many of these tenets.


See standard eLearning in a variety of risk areas.


How do you Know This Will Work?

This is one of the easiest Return on Investment (ROI) tests you will ever have to do. When you are ready to implement Compliance Training & Performance Support year round, work with your Compliance Officer and/or General Counsel to determine the number, severity, and costs associated with compliance violations in the "sheep-dipping" implementation in the previous year versus the new 365-day implementation method.  You can also compare the staff hours in managing and reporting on compliance training.  You should see a marked decrease in the number of violations and the staff hours spent managing compliance reporting year over year. And you won't have to scramble frenetically for six weeks a year being the compliance police.

This is a radical change from the way compliance training has been done for the last couple of decades, but it is the right way!


Want to learn more about Micro-Learning?


Interested in Making Real Compliance Change?

Is your organization living the Compliance Training Fantasy? Do you want to Stop the Madness?  Contact Syntrio, so we can assess your current compliance training program and make recommendations to augment and/or improve your current offering.

 

Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!

 

Written by Darin Hartley, Director of Marketing for Syntrio.

I’m looking at the Company in the Mirror:

I’m Looking at the Company in the Mirror:

If You Wanna Make Your Company a Better Place Take a Look at that Code and Make that Change

When considering the effectiveness of your company’s code of conduct it is important to pay close attention to how the leading companies in the world handle the important task of outlining the message they wish to portray via their code. April 2017 brings Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, wherein leading application and software engineers will gather to discuss new and emerging technology that will be available on the world’s most giant social media platform. Not surprisingly, in the past this event has been filled with rumors of misogyny and perversion among the largely male crowd.

As a means of combatting unethical and illegal behavior Facebook has published a special code of conduct for the 2017 F8 show on the conference webpage. Among the behavior Facebook lists as prohibited includes the following:

  • Derogatory or insensitive jokes, pranks, or comments
  • Slurs or epithets
  • Unwelcome sexual advances or invitations
  • Leering or offensive gestures, or unwelcome touching
  • Ridiculing or demeaning comments
  • Harassing photography or recording
  • Heckling, or disrupting speakers
  • Displaying or sharing images that are derogatory or sexually-oriented
  • Making offensive comments about people’s bodies or appearance

While it seems sad that Facebook feels the need to institute a “no jerks allowed” policy into its conference code of conduct, it is refreshing to see that the company has taken note of prior complaints and is attempting to address them in advance, rather than issue formal apologies after the fact. All companies can take note of this forward thinking in their ethics practices, and can learn a lot from Facebook’s desire to be a proponent of ethical conduct at events it sponsors.

Facebook ends its code of conduct by acknowledging that its list is non-exhaustive and that attendees are urged to use their best judgment. This call to professionalism is a hallmark of quality codes of conduct, and although this particular document is targeted at attendees to this specific event, the detail with which it was prepared and the forward thinking employed are admirable.

When formulating your company’s code of conduct it is important to consider not just the legal and compliance issues you feel may arise, but also the image you wish to project. After all, your code of conduct is a statement of company values and a demonstration of why you feel it is essential that your employees adhere to the standards you set forth.  We strongly suggest your company take a page out of Facebook’s playbook and consider your audience when developing or revising your company code of conduct.

 

Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!

 

Written by Jonathan Gonzalez, Chief Counsel for Syntrio.

Corporate Social Media Ethics: The Machine vs. the Man & the Myth

Corporate Social Media Ethics: The Machine vs. the Man & the Myth

As an attorney, I've spilled a lot of ink over what businesses and individuals have the right to do. As an ethics and compliance professional I've spilled a lot of ink over what is right for businesses to do. This is the beauty and the beast of having the dual role of advising a company on legal issues while maintaining its place in the ethics industry. Today we examine the dichotomy between what companies have the right to do with respect to their employee and customer data online versus what they should (or should not) be doing.

2017 has seen the apex of the corporate embrace of social media. While it may have seemed ubiquitous before the fact is that this year has seen nearly every company embrace an understanding of the power of the information available online. We see social media's pervasiveness all the way up to the Executive Branch's use (or misuse depending on your point of view) of Twitter. Given that nobody can honestly argue that business use of social media is essential to remain competitive, we first take a look at how companies are using social media beyond the marketing realm.

Know they Enemy (but how well should you)?

Social media consultants are teaching companies how to mine the web for important diamonds of information about customers, competitors, and employees. This information can be used to weed out sales prospects that are unlikely to buy and/or employees who might not be a good fit for the company. While this seems harmless, there is certainly an ethical dilemma when searching anonymously through the blinds of the social media glass window. Take for example the situation where a conflict of interest becomes apparent, yet unknown to the other party. If the potential lead or hire is a good fit many businesses are choosing to hide behind their anonymity and justifying the ends with the means. This seems all well and good until you are caught, but how would you like it if you knew a competitor was playing dirty? You might not react so kindly. While you may have the "right" to use your social media accounts to mine data about your prospects and potential new hires, it certainly may not be the "right" thing to do.

"I'll be Back:" How Anonymous are You and can You Terminate Your Social Media Presence?

Many companies have asked me for legal advice on creating anonymous social media accounts for the purpose of engaging in effective corporate espionage. These stories all tend to start with some version of "I want to gauge the competition but don't want them to know it." So the entity creates a seemingly anonymous Twitter account or Facebook profile to do their ethical dirty work. The problem with this approach is that nothing is truly anonymous. It doesn't take a degree in hacking to determine not only the IP address where a social media account was generated but even the email address behind which the account hides. Some social media experts are savvy enough to hide behind multiple layers of protection, but when considering the ethics of this kind of behavior the ends don't justify the means. This certainly falls into the category of not having the "right" nor being "right."

Keep Your Friends Close . . .

Another important ethical dilemma that arises frequently in business social media use is companies patrolling their employee accounts for information that they are disgruntled or likely to quit. This information is often used against employees. Discounting the potential labor law issues with policing employee social media use, constant monitoring of employee personal accounts to take the temperature of the workforce is not only arguably unethical, it's just plain creepy. There are plenty of ways to ask for feedback on how your corporate culture is doing that don't involve spying on others online. For example, corporate training sessions, performance reviews, and social events hosted by the company are a chance to get face to face with your workforce and make sure that employees are content with your business management style. Again, while you may (or may not) have the "right" to monitor employee social media data, most of the time it is not "right" to do so.

If the "looking through the blinds" Bitmoji above gives you the creeps, always keep it in mind when considering the ethics of your business social media use. You never want to be the company that is seen as unethical and laying in the weeds, as the ethical and reputation costs can far outweigh the gains from engaging in questionable social media ethics.

Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!

 

Written by Jonathan Gonzalez, Chief Counsel for Syntrio.