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The next level of compliance: corporate consciousness

I'm often asked for my thoughts about the future of compliance. What people really want to know is, what's the next level of compliance? How do we improve? For me, the answer is corporate consciousness.

That means creating organizational cultures that inculcate responsibility from within and are transparent in their impact on people.

There are four primary components of corporate consciousness as it relates to compliance and its future:

1. Transparency

2. Accountability

3. Technology

4. Organizational culture: Happiness as an asset

Let's start with transparency. Last year, contributing editor Shruti Shah described on the FCPA Blog the concept and process of verification in compliance. Her words can also describe the importance of transparency and accountability in corporate consciousness.

She said,

Transparency and accountability are effectively managed by regulatory compliance. Compliance verification efforts -- both internal and external to assess that a company has an effective program for preventing and detecting corruption in its business operations -- will be essential. Without verification of anti-corruption compliance programs, and a corporation’s reporting on its programs, stakeholders cannot differentiate between serious efforts to prohibit corruption and programs that are primarily designed to be a paper tiger.

Technology will also play a key role in taking compliance to the next level. Governments and private companies are under more pressure now to to share information through digital platforms. The generations that have grown up with the internet expect far more transparency. That transparency will in turn promote accountability.

Organizational cultures are crucial to take compliance to the next level. Human resource programs that encourage and reward ethics and transparency and promote wellbeing as an asset are central to corporate consciousness.

I believe the most important aspect of human resource management is employee happiness. Ethical and compliant corporate cultures begin with individual responsibility and accountability. Where do those come from? Qin Zhang & Donald Gibson studied the effects of perceived supervisor caring. They found that it promoted happiness, and happiness in turn led to more productive and compliant employees.

I would describe it this way: When we feel that our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is being respected, joy and pride infuse our work. Sure, laws against paying and taking bribes are necessary if we are to live as a civil society. For the same reason, public and private organizations need compliance programs, with clear rules about what behavior is permitted and what isn't. But let's not stop there.

Our individual desire to do the right thing can't come from laws and rules alone. That's why every organization should also pursue corporate consciousness. The joy and pride we feel as individuals is what will ultimately propel compliance to the next level.


José Da Silva is the founder and CEO of Vantech Group. From offices in Latin America and Miami, Vantech combines specialized consulting, tailored outsourcing, compliance systems and enhanced due diligence, and cutting-edge technology to help companies entering and operating in Latin America. He can be contacted here.