“Every company is just one bad decision or one ‘bad employee’ away from scandal, one scandal away from a salacious headline, and one headline away from a flood of lawsuits.”
As general counsel of fire safety and security specialists Tyco International, William Lytton was well aware of the threat posed to corporate solvency and indeed to human life by flouting of the rules.
With each new territory we seek to trade in, that threat grows more acute. The pitfalls of trading in China were discussed in detail last week at the offices of K&L Gates in Seattle. Speakers at “Anticorruption Compliance in China” outlined the struggles of multinational companies to abide by China’s rules, and in some cases even to understand them. One message repeated was that the Chinese government is on a purge, internally and externally. In 2013 alone, 31,000 of its own officials were convicted on corruption charges. And more and more local investigations of foreign multinationals are targeting what in some cases are long-standing industry practices. What is commonly followed in one country might be considered unethical or even criminal in another. It may not console GlaxoSmithKline to know it, but they have plenty of company on Beijing’s list of offenders.
Closer to home, the UK Bribery Act, passed into law in July 2011, has brought clarity and discipline to the subject and is generally viewed as the most stringent anti-corruption legislation in the world. Information technology law is moving forward under the guidance of the EU, with European data protection reform signalling the first major changes since the birth of the internet. This is a good time to know the rules, and a very bad time to flout them.
Employers across all sectors are alert to the risks. International law firms recruiting lawyers from different jurisdictions and with different professional education experience need to have everyone’s skills and knowledge aligned. Manufacturing companies whose products comfortably meet a standard in one territory but may fall short in another need key staff to be aware of the disparity and of the consequences.
When it comes to maintaining knowledge and skill levels across a diverse workforce, the advantages of e-learning are increasingly clear. The single largest cost organisations face in staff training isn’t the cost of the trainer or the materials. It’s the cost of their own staff attending the course. Take away that cost and inconvenience and the picture changes. Add the benefits that online brings to consistency and scalability and the fact that learners can move at their own pace and it’s not surprising that this has become an education medium of choice.
The best e-learning providers will look not only at delivery but at learning outcomes. Whatever you’re seeking to achieve, they will be your partner in achieving it. Long standing market leaders such as BYG Systems have a track record of breathing life and relevance into any subject matter for any industry, boosting information retention rates and constantly focusing on the client’s end goal. Sometimes that goal will be an induction that makes employees feel part of a team from day one. And sometimes it will be a detailed explanation of policies and procedures that keeps you in profit and out of the courtroom.
Compliance managers and the people who support them are the equivalent of sports referees. When their diligence nips problems in the bud, they can go unthanked and unnoticed. But take that diligence away and the consequences can be measureless. Potential loss of revenue, of credibility, even of personal freedom loom over companies and their key decision makers.
But the story doesn’t have to end that way. There is a better path to follow, and skilled partners available to help us follow it. The message is clear; educate, motivate, comply.