Six essential tips to manage compliance risks

Column box-Integrity Initiative

By Henry J. Schumacher

We all know that managing compliance risks can seem like a daunting task. We are also aware that the regulators are putting more and more emphasis on compliance management. In order to manage compliance risks, it is crucial that you take a systematic approach to identifying, mitigating, and reviewing the compliance risks your business faces on an ongoing basis. Here are the six essential tips to take into account when evaluating your approach to compliance risk management.

1. Always Start With a Risk Assessment

You can’t manage compliance risks if you don’t understand what your risks actually are. Without a thorough and scientifically justified risk assessment all the elements that make up your compliance program; your policies, due diligence, and tone at the top, will accomplish little if they do not address the right risks.

It is key to assess the risks faced by your business first in order to prioritize and address them appropriately.

2. Understand the Latest Enforcement Policies

Compliance risks typically encompass a number of areas including data protection—both personal and sensitive data-, cyber security, fair competition and anti-corruption. As part of your risk assessment, you should ensure that you understand the requirements imposed by all applicable laws and regulations. However, beyond understanding the letter of the law, it is important that you stay up-to-date with the latest guidance and enforcement policies released by the enforcement agencies as prosecutors wield significant discretion when deciding whether or not to prosecute misconduct. Doing so could potentially be enormously beneficial if problems do arise, as you will have been able to tweak your compliance program to qualify for leniency.

3. Don’t Forget to Build a Culture of Ethics and Compliance

The tone at the top of your organization is crucial. Senior leadership should clearly communicate to middle managers, and the rest of the organization, the type of ethical conduct expected from each and every employee—themselves included. Beyond words, actual conduct matters; mere lip-service has never convinced anyone.

On a more practical level, you should ensure that you deliver training in a way that is easily accessible to employees and engages them in a way resulting in them actually retaining the message. Failing to do so might render training meaningless. It has to be understood that for instance data breaches happen in operations.

4. Ensure People Feel Free to Speak Up

A strong ethics and compliance culture in your organization is essential to ensure people feel free to speak up if they see misconduct in the organization. No matter how many procedures you have in place, employees will not feel free to blow the whistle on misconduct in the organization if they are not confident they can do so anonymously and without fear of retaliation.

5. Continuously Monitor and Update Your Compliance Efforts

As your business is continuously changing, your compliance efforts should change in lock-step. It would be a mistake to think of managing compliance risks as a one-time exercise of writing policies and setting up processes. You will only know whether or not your policies and procedures are effective if you evaluate them on a regular basis. Always ask yourself how you can best measure your impact. One key benefit of compliance technology is that it can give you insight into large amounts of data at a glance via useful dashboards and automatically generated reports. Suitable software can be recommended.

6. Free Up Time and Resources Using Automation

It is evident that managing compliance risks is not an easy task; it requires managing lots of complicated processes, a myriad of stakeholders, as well as fostering a culture of ethics and compliance.

The complexity of compliance management and understanding that the safe journey into data protection needs automation inspired me to create a cooperation with Straits Interactive, a company in Singapore that has developed the DPOinBox, Data Protection At Your Service, to equip professionals, managers and executives with the competencies to perform their jobs in data protection. The DPOinBox platform delivers data protection to build trust with customers and stakeholder. If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact me.

I am available at hjschumacher59@gmail.com

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