In a column published earlier this year, the New York Times’ Ethicist was asked about the ethics of an employee’s skipping FCPA compliance training where the training seemingly bore no relevance to his or her actual job. (“My company now requires all employees to complete a self-directed training course on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, relevant to our overseas staff but not to my job. This training takes about four hours, time better spent on something more productive.”)
Doubtless many compliance and ethics professionals found the answer less significant than the question itself, which gave voice to a growing concern in the field about the efficacy of overly broad approaches to compliance training.
Based on this concern, companies increasingly deploy anti-corruption (and other) training in a role-based way. Among the roles for which such tailored training might be worthwhile are positions in sales and marketing, finance and accounting, legal, audit, regulatory, procurement and logistics – as well as operational management (itself a broad category, within which there could be a number of different risk-relevant roles in some organizations).
For many companies this sort of effort is quite new, and it seems far too early to form any kind of definitive judgment as to its utility. Still, the responses to date to a question on this issue in the compliance program benchmarking survey we are conducting with the FCPA Blog may be instructive: 13% of those conducting such training are very satisfied with it and 67% are somewhat satisfied, with only 20% indicating that they are not satisfied.
These results – while still preliminary - are encouraging. That is, four fifths of those engaging in role-based anti-corruption compliance training see some value in the effort, and presumably as the state of the art improves (as it is bound to) so will the degree of satisfaction with this type of training. At the same time, given the risks of anti-corruption compliance failures, moving the needle from “somewhat satisfied” (where most companies seem to be) to “very satisfied” should, in our opinion, be seen as a high priority for those responsible for delivering training.
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Have you taken the Anti-Corruption Compliance Program Benchmarking Survey yet? Participating companies contribute information anonymously and will receive a complimentary copy of the final report, with findings and analyses not only regarding various aspects of training (including training of third parties) but a host of other important compliance practices.
For more information about the survey, and a link to take it, click here.
Jeffrey M. Kaplan and Rebecca Walker are partners at Kaplan & Walker LLP. They recently published a chapter in the BNA/ACC Compliance Manual on Compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Jeff, who is also co-editor of Compliance Programs and the Corporate Sentencing Guidelines (Thomson Reuters), can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rebecca, who is also author of Conflicts of Interest in Business and the Professions: Law and Compliance (Thomson Reuters), can be reached at email@example.com.