10 tips from 5 years of evolving a global Ethics & Compliance Awareness Week


Post by: Krista Wolff, Senior Manager, Compliance Communications, Qualcomm Inc

The Compliance team at Qualcomm Inc just hosted our 5th annual I ❤ Compliance: Ethics & Compliance Awareness Week, and what a long, strange trip it’s been. We started our efforts in 2018 with a relatively straightforward, basic plan. Just when we thought we had it figured out, 2020 showed up and, as for everyone in the world, made us think differently to keep moving forward. Time warp to 2022, with all the changes and challenges that a hybrid work environment brings, and we managed to run our most magically wonderful awareness week ever.

How magical? Engagement numbers for some of our activities jumped from the tens in 2021 to the thousands this year. That is a LOT of energy and excitement from our employees which exceeded even our wildest expectations.

How did we get from “nice job” to “OH WOW”?

  1. Just do it! It’s an iconic tagline for good reason. Are you thinking of starting an awareness week at your organization? Don’t let perfect get in the way of done – take the leap and get it out there. Take pride in being audacious and going for it. This is the perfect opportunity to try something out. If it doesn’t work, fail forward and learn what can be better next year!
  2. Leverage what you have. No budget? No problem. Get creative! Can you use SharePoint? Internal communication channels? Your in-house copy center? Run to the store and pick up a bag of candy – now you have a giveaway!
  3. Start early and keep moving forward. We keep a running list of activities/ideas/events that we didn’t get to or passed on for this year so we’ve already got a place to start for the next time around. Set calendar reminders and deadlines early and book conference rooms/event space way in advance. Do some advance promotion to drive excitement – we started broadcasting on our internal communication channels weeks ahead of time and launched some cross-functional activities before the week. By the time November 7 rolled around we already had hundreds of engaged employees!
  4. Organizing is the name of the game. Find that special someone who is the ultimate project manager to keep everything organized, on track, and moving ahead. Give them the keys to the car and let them show you how to drive.
  5. Get your whole team off the bench. Our team of ethics superheroes does a brainstorming session to get us started, then everyone signs up for things they can leverage their superpowers to help with. There’s something for everyone! Love public speaking? Get up there! Magician with data? Help out on the back end! Encourage your team members to step outside their normal roles and show off their expertise.
  6. Go global. Remember there is more to your organization than just headquarters. We tapped into our Ethics Liaison network and asked them to help us celebrate in ways that worked best for their location. We received team photos under Compliance Week banners, video interviews with leadership, testimonials, boomerang videos. You name it and they brought it to the table.
  7. Ask around. We reached out to other assurance groups in the company to see if they wanted to join the party, and the response was a resounding “absolutely!”. Give them some starter ideas and a space to amplify their own messages. In return, you get a wealth of new content and an expanded audience. It’s a win-win situation!
  8. Make it delicious AND nutritious. Games are a great way to capture interest, but are they really helping further your message of ethics and compliance? Ask your employees to go on a scavenger hunt across your website, or spin the wheel and answer a compliance trivia question in exchange for some swag. Challenge people to Ethics Bingo – complete five activities on the card for the opportunity to earn swag and recognition. It’s amazing what you can learn when you’re not trying to.
  9. What gets recognized gets repeated. Make sure that every single person who participates or helps you in any way is thanked and recognized for their commitment to ethics and compliance. It does not need to be expensive or extravagant. We issue digital “Certificates of Awesome” to all participants, and we award low-budget swag and recognition tokens to employees who have gone above and beyond in their efforts. Copy their supervisors for extra visibility! Leveraging inclusion is a great way to scale your company’s ethics and compliance community.
  10. Last, but very much not least: be real, authentic, and human. Have fun with it! If you hold a networking reception, serve Integritinis and Cosmopolicies and level-up the ambience with a compliance-themed playlist. Have employees take selfies inside a compliance-themed photo frame or ask them to create ethics memes. Let your personality shine and show everyone that Team Compliance is your friendly neighborhood group of helpers.

We’ve come a long way in five years, but we’re already working on our wish list for 2023. There is always opportunity to innovate and push forward. It’s all made possible because of the full support from our head of Compliance, who empowers our team to run with our big ideas to help Qualcomm properly celebrate our culture of Unquestioned Integrity.