Alison Taylor on a Higher Ground for Compliance [Podcast]


By Adam Turteltaub

Compliance programs have come far over the last few decades, but there is still more that they could do to elevate their performance. In this podcast, Alison Taylor, Clinical Associate Professor at NYU Stern School of Business and author of the book Higher Ground shares some intriguing and provocative ideas for improvement.

She is a strong believer in what she calls “firm foundations”. These foundations avoid having too many rules which can, inadvertently, have a negative impact, causing employees to abdicate responsibility for their action and grow overly reliant on following rules. Instead, she argues for simplifying and being attuned to human behavior and the role of incentives.

Be wary too, she advises, of mixed messages and potentially pernicious effects when it appears, whether true or not, that the rules for the rank and file do not apply to leadership. It degrades trust and the culture.

To get more employees to speak up when they see wrongdoing, she advises investing the time in understanding why they don’t raise their hands more.

When it comes to measuring the impact of the compliance program, she is a strong proponent of measuring the ethical culture. Do employees feel safe speaking up?  Whom do they speak to when there is a problem? Do they believe the whistleblower line is truly anonymous? Is leadership looking out for them?

The answers to these questions, and how they change over time, can illuminate how well the program is working.

Listen in to gain more insights, including how to build a common ethical foundation and the importance of adequate authority for the compliance and ethics program.