How important is it, if the compliance and ethics staff members are paid poorly and feel that they are in a dead-end job? Recent guidance from the Department of Justice suggests the government will consider this in evaluating your compliance program. Recently the Fraud Section in the Criminal Division issued a guidance on its enforcement policy regarding the FCPA, including a discussion of compliance program factors it would consider (The Fraud Section’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Enforcement Plan and Guidance).
According to the Guidance prosecutors will look at “How a company’s compliance personnel are compensated and promoted compared to other employees.” Why is this so important? This is spelled out in SCCE’s white paper, “Using Incentives in Your Compliance and Ethics Program” pages 32-33 (SCCE; 2012). As noted there, “How the compliance and ethics staff members are treated will be read by employees as an essential sign of their importance.” How a company pays and promotes people is the clearest signal of what the company’s values and culture really are.
If a company is facing possible FCPA charges and it wants to convince the government that its compliance and ethics program really merits credit, management needs to pay attention to these critical factors. Who you reward, who you promote, and who you recognize all matter to your employees, and it will also matter to the prosecutors looking to assess how serious you are about compliance.
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