2021 Benchmark: Leadership’s Commitment to Compliance Weakened by Competing Priorities

Choosing between what is right and what is easy is a classic test of character. When applied to large enterprise organizations (or any size business, for that matter), cutting corners can have dire consequences. Compliance is more than a mandatory training, and in practice requires buy-in from senior leaders, middle managers and individual contributors. Non-compliant businesses can face fines, tarnished reputations, loss of customers, and, for responsible stakeholders, jail time.  

When prosecuting a non-compliant business, the U.S. Department of Justice instructs investigators to discern the organization’s commitment to compliance to determine the level of negligence and responsible parties. Two of these questions are incredibly telling, and ask if the organization’s senior leaders and management demonstrate:

  • A commitment to the company’s compliance efforts
  • A persistence in that commitment in the face of competing interests and/or business objectives

To better understand how companies would stand up under this level of scrutiny, NAVEX Global surveyed over a thousand respondents asking those same questions of their organization’s leadership. The results, published in the 2021 Definitive Risk &Compliance Benchmark Report, are concerning (if unsurprising).

One a positive note, over 70% of respondents said their senior leadership and management demonstrated a commitment to compliance efforts. However, when faced with “competing interests and/or business objectives,” persisting in compliance efforts dropped to 46% for senior leaders and 38% for managers.

The majority of respondents feel compliance is neglected when it is not convenient, or at odds with other business priorities. While actively impeding compliance efforts or encouraging unethical behavior is relatively uncommon, compliance requires persistence in order to be effective.

How would your organization withstand these questions?

Compliance is more than a cost center or a barrier to revenue. But when the going gets tough, as it has for many companies, tolerating greater compliance risks is tempting.

Steps You Can Take

How does an organization bring compliance out of the abstract and elevate its importance across the company, even in the face of competing business priorities?

Organizations must embrace the ideology that compliance is not a hinderance to the business. Viewing compliance as a pillar of your company’s values is fundamental; when thought of as a “nice to have,” corners are more easily cut, and compliance efforts are pushed aside.

Listen and incorporate feedback. Showing a persistence in compliance efforts takes a real commitment and willingness to play the long game. It is easy to cut corners to move initiatives along, but doing so puts the business in jeopardy and causes safety issues, legal recourse, and has a detrimental effect on employee experience.

Compliance helps a business grow. Adjusting the mindset away from “box checking” and garnering support across the company to demonstrate and promote ethical and compliant behavior is the first step.

Whether your organization needs a compliance refresh or a total overhaul, understanding the landscape and resources available helps to paint the picture of what is needed, and why. The 2021 Definitive Risk & Compliance Benchmark Report includes detailed information and resources to help your organization persist in a commitment to compliance.

Download the 2021 Definitive Risk & Compliance Benchmark Report

Chat with a solutions expert to learn how you can take your compliance program to the next level of maturity.

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