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Results from ECI’s High-Quality Program (HQP) Assessments suggest organizations must mature key program elements that contribute to strong culture

PORTLAND, Ore.—March 12, 2024NAVEX, the leader in integrated risk and compliance management software, today announced findings from its partnership with the Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI) to provide a unique version of ECI’s High-Quality Program (HQP) assessment tool and report exclusively to select NAVEX customers and partners. Assessment results indicate respondents are overly optimistic about the efficacy of their programs, especially when it comes to the strength of their corporate cultures.

To develop and implement higher-quality ethics and compliance (E&C) programs, E&C professionals need a consistent and unbiased means of assessing and measuring program maturity and quality. ECI worked with E&C professionals to develop a high-quality program methodology, principles and assessment tool to meet this need. The resulting HQP Assessment focuses on five principles: strategy; risk management; culture, speaking up; and accountability.

Based on respondents’ answers, their program is placed within one of five HQP maturity levels across the five principles. They are, in order from most to least mature: optimizing; managing; adapting; defining; or underdeveloped. Respondents can also compare their scores to peer organizations included in ECI’s HQP benchmarks. Combined with the maturity levels, the HQP benchmarks show organizations where there are opportunities to mature their programs.  

Over 229 assessments were completed as of March 2024, and results suggest most programs are managing or optimizing across the five principles. However, results across the five principles show respondents’ perceptions of their programs may be overly optimistic. For example, while 64% of programs ranked at the peak level for cultural maturity, only 31% reached this level of maturity for speaking up and 26% of respondents ranked this high on metrics for accountability. 
Given the role an accountable, risk-aware, speak-up culture play in strong corporate culture, these results suggest respondents overestimate the strength of their culture and perhaps lack insight to the strategic impact other key areas have on building a mature culture of compliance.   

“While it’s encouraging to see so many organizations score at the top maturity level for culture, it’s impossible for corporate culture to be truly strong if the key elements that feed it—like risk, speaking up and accountability—are lacking,” said Carrie Penman, NAVEX Chief Risk & Compliance Officer. “Respondents whose programs scored high on culture but lack maturity across the remaining principles must take a step back to evaluate how those principles factor into their culture, and ultimately the overall strength of their risk and compliance programs.”

The results echo the findings of NAVEX’s 2023 State of Risk and Compliance Report, based on a survey of over 1,300 risk and compliance professionals from around the world. Only 36% of respondents rated organizational culture as “absolutely essential” presenting an opportunity for organizational leaders and risk and compliance professionals alike to assess their focus on the factors that contribute to better organizational culture as a gateway to stronger E&C programs.

“The High-Quality Program (HQP) framework is the industry’s definition of an effective program, as developed and continually refined by E&C professionals” stated Pat Harned, Ph.D., CEO of ECI. “We are grateful for NAVEX’s partnership in making the HQP assessment tool available to their customers, and we look forward to future work together to help organizations address these and other important gaps that the HQP reveals.”  

About ECI

ECI is the leading organization helping organizations to operate with integrity. We provide ethics and compliance professionals with the tools they need to become great leaders, build exceptional teams, and create ethical workplaces that set the highest standard. We equip companies and organizations for success by giving them the confidence that they are doing the right thing, and the intelligence to anticipate what is coming around the corner. For more information about ECI and to become a member visit  

About NAVEX  

NAVEX is trusted by thousands of customers worldwide to help them achieve the business outcomes that matter most. As the global leader in integrated risk and compliance management software and services, we deliver our solutions through the NAVEX One platform, the industry’s most comprehensive governance, risk and compliance (GRC) information system.

Media Contact:

Scott Levesque

Carol Levey