Ethics and Compliance Programs – More Leading Practices

There’s been an increase in both the level and type

of information that WMECs share with their Board.

–Ethisphere, 2015

In the April 4, 2016 blog post about leading practices in ethics and compliance programs we shared just some of the emerging trends that the Ethisphere Institute had highlighted in its whitepaper Actionable Insights from the 2015 World’s Most Ethical Companies®. Here are more of the emerging trends from that paper:

  • The level and type of ethics and compliance information shared with Boards will increase
  • Formal training of Board members will increase
  • More organizations will utilize metrics to analyze and benchmark their programs, and follow evolving best practices

In the earlier post we covered the first of four areas Ethisphere examined in its paper—“Next Practices – The Evolution of Compliance & Ethics Programs.” Here are the remaining three:

  • Data the Board and Executive Managers Should See
  • Governance and Transparency Driving Trust Among Employees, Owners, and the Public
  • Measuring Up? Understanding Your Company’s Culture and the Effectiveness of Your Compliance Program

For the period 2013–2015, Ethisphere’s surveys found there had been an increase in the level and the type of information that its WMECs (world’s most ethical companies honorees) shared with their boards. They share ethics and compliance communication initiatives (95%), audit and benchmark findings (95%), risk assessment findings (93%), industry trends and best practices (89%) and “culture of ethics” assessment or survey findings (86%). These companies also have been leading a trend to formally train boards on the Code of Conduct. In 2015, 70% of WMECs reported they had done so within the past two years.

WMECs also place a focus on training and empowering managers. These companies appreciate the value of manager-specific training as an “increasingly important vehicle for disseminating culture throughout an organization”; 80% report that their managers have a high-likelihood of receiving ethics and compliance-specific training.

Non-retaliation polices are an important part of governance and transparency. Ethisphere reports that WMEC honorees’ policies are more robust than those of non-honoree companies, and WMEC honorees have more procedures in place to protect employees who report misconduct. For example, they monitor for a change in job status (39%) and for a change in performance evaluations or job assignments (25%), and they engage in proactive follow-up to ensure non-retaliation (37%).

Communication plays a big role in how well non-retaliation policies and other ethics-related policies, programs, and initiatives are viewed. Among other findings, WMEC honorees are more likely than non-honorees to have a documented, multi-year ethics-related communication plan and to include metrics to measure the effectiveness of their plans. They are also more likely to have company-wide initiatives or programs.

Finally, WMECs recognize the value of measurement in the effectiveness of their programs. For example, 86% of these companies measure the effectiveness of training by looking for its impact on misconduct. Further, they regularly and formally evaluate or benchmark their overall programs, and then use the results to aid resource planning, set program roadmaps, learn what’s trending, and improve communications with employees.

The 2015 Actionable Insights whitepaper contains a great deal more information. You can request a copy from Ethisphere via the link provided below. Meanwhile, here is how Ethisphere suggests you use the information from its whitepaper:

  • Share findings with senior leadership
  • More tightly integrate the Ethics & Compliance role with other business roles
  • Compare your company to other leading companies
  • Help focus your investment in program and resources
  • Elevate compliance and integrity to a business imperative

Ethical Advocate provides leading governance, risk and compliance solutions. It provides custom designed live ethics trainings and seminars. For more information, visit the website at


Actionable Insights from the 2015 World’s Most Ethical Companies. Ethisphere Institute, 2015. Request a copy at