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Training for boards jumps by nearly 30 percent compared with 2017 findings, but major training gaps persist despite a volatile ethics and compliance environment

Portland, OR – July 19, 2018 – Leading ethics and compliance software and services company NAVEX Global® today announced the release of findings from its 2018 Training Benchmark Report. In the wake of a series of high-profile sexual harassment scandals in recent months, organizations have adjusted their training programs – and are providing more training to boards of directors.

The report, now in its fifth year, is based on survey responses from more than 1,200 ethics and compliance professionals globally. Seventy-three percent of respondents said they train their board members, up from 44 percent in 2017 and 58 percent in 2016. This shift reflects a major positive trend for organizations and demonstrates an increasing awareness of their obligation to keep directors apprised of ethics and compliance risks. Recent reputation-damaging events have heightened awareness around the need to educate directors – but the survey reveals that major gaps persist as directors are not fully educated on the most pressing risks.

“Sexual harassment is not a new issue and it’s one that reaches the top echelons of organizations, harming value and reputation when allegations surface,” said Ingrid Fredeen, J.D., Vice President, Online Learning Content, NAVEX Global. “While it’s encouraging that overall training for directors is up, far too many organizations are still rolling the dice and crossing their fingers by deciding not to provide sufficient training on this important topic.”

Nearly 28 percent of organizations are either not training or training employees who aren’t managers only once on workplace harassment. For directors, the numbers are worse at 65 percent. When it comes to other top risk areas, the percent of directors who never receive training is startling: code of conduct (25 percent), workplace harassment (44 percent), cyber security (25 percent), conflicts of interest (23 percent) and bribery and corruption (20 percent).

“Many boards are not trained on important topics and limited training is far from adequate,” Fredeen said. “Given directors’ oversight responsibility for organizational culture and behavior, critical topics should be addressed more regularly.”

Respondents identified their top training objective as creating a culture of ethics and respect – which had fallen behind complying with laws and regulations among objectives in last year’s survey. This might be a sign that organizations are taking a more holistic approach given the compliance failures in the news and a growing understanding about the importance of culture.

“The most mature program leaders have moved beyond regulatory alignment and on to tackling ethics and compliance objectives through multiple channels with a broader approach,” Fredeen said. “Organizations that implement ethics and compliance programs simply to check a box or comply with regulations miss an opportunity to take advantage of program capabilities that develop, nurture and maintain strong, positive organizational cultures.”

Other findings in this year’s report include:

  • Program maturity is linked to program effectiveness. The most mature programs are striving to innovate and reach employees where they are at; they utilize risk-based training, micro learning, adaptive learning, and just in time training at much higher rates than less mature programs. These organizations also struggle with more advanced challenges such as measuring return on investment.
  • Less advanced programs remain challenged by persistent low-level issues such as: maturing programs cited covering all topics important to their industry, basic organizations pointed to limited hours available for training and reactive organizations struggle with insufficient resources.
  • Importantly, respondents said training (56 percent) was the part of their ethics and compliance programs most responsible for preventing misconduct or ethical violations within their organizations in the past three years. Training played a more important role than procedure management systems (47 percent), hotline systems (39 percent) and third-party monitoring systems (18 percent). Training done right can represent the best line of defense and the best opportunity to drive the culture your organization wants.

Join the webinar to further explore into these findings.

About NAVEX Global

NAVEX Global’s comprehensive suite of ethics and compliance software, content and services helps organizations protect their people, reputation and bottom line. Trusted by 95 of the FORTUNE 100 and more than 13,000 clients, our solutions are informed by the largest ethics and compliance community in the world. For more information, visit

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