Almost everyone in the workplace (75% of workers in 2011) is a social networker, as reported by the Ethics Resource Center (ERC) in its 2013 National Business Ethics Survey of Social Networkers.
That report, and others like it since then, focused on the need to develop policies and procedures about appropriate, ethical use of social networks. However, the ERC also concluded that companies could and should use social networking to boost their ethics cultures. One of its recommendations:
Take advantage of social networking to enhance internal and external communications, especially outreach to employees to reinforce the company’s ethics culture.
Fast forward a few years. In two 2015 FCPA Compliance & Ethics blog posts, attorney Thomas Fox described how ethics and compliance professionals can effectively use social networking tools to connect with employees and build trust. He suggested trying one or more of the following.
Facebook: Open a Facebook page for the ethics or compliance function; share an unlimited amount of information; respond when employees comment on the posts. “The more regularly you post, the more opportunity you have for connecting with your employee base and building trust.”
YouTube: Create a YouTube channel; post full training on specific issues or create short videos. “If there is any information that you wish to put into a visual format, YouTube is one of the best solutions available to you.
LinkedIn: Set up a private ethics and compliance group for your organization; invite employees to follow the group (aside—you’ll want to post something interesting to engage their interest initially and then keep posting); share ethics and compliance-related updates and solicit feedback and comments.
Twitter: Set up an account and invite employees to follow; restrict message delivery to just followers if you wish (aside–but be aware that followers can and will retweet news of interest); monitor the Twitter feed to keep abreast of the discussions.
Meerkat and Periscope (live video streaming and broadcasting smartphone apps): Create compliance campaigns (see the Hootsuite example in the full blog post); live stream video training around the globe; use in conjunction with podcasting or other internal messaging to created “compliance reminders.” [Note-in early 2016 Meerkat announced it was pivoting away from livestream to some other form of video social network.)
Pinterest (“visual bulletin board”; shared content is entirely visual): “Pin” items, lists, or other visual information to be viewed and used by employees; add links, websites, graphics, or other related forms of information.
Even if companies, for some good reason, cannot use publicly available tools, they can incorporate the concepts into internal versions of those tools, or use other internal tools in a social networking way.
Some companies have created their own apps to boost ethics and compliance awareness and communication. For example, Honeywell developed a gifts and hospitality smartphone app, which is also web-based. Honeywell employees worldwide can “access user-friendly and current policies in their own language and submit requests for gifts and hospitality [approval] real time,” (Harris, 2016).
Ford Motor company developed a smartphone app called “The Right Way” that allows users to access compliance information quickly, to include policy summaries and FAQs. It also has a decision tree function, and, in another form of ethics hotline, it also enables users to report a suspected violation directly to the compliance office (Fox, 2016; Silverstein, 2015).
Social networking tools—these and others—provide enhanced opportunities to boost ethics awareness. However, the word “tools” is the least important in that phrase. The words “social” and “networking” describe behaviors and approaches valued by most of us. Ethics and compliance professionals and other organizational leaders who take a social networking approach to communications, education, and training may find themselves with a connected, engaged group of employees who support and promote a strong ethical culture.
Ethical Advocate has been providing ethics hotline, compliance, and training services for over a decade. We invite you to contact us for more information.
Ethics Resource Center. National Business Ethics Survey of Social Networkers: New Risks and Opportunities at Work, July 2013.
Fox, Thomas. “Social Media Week Part V—Tools and Apps for the compliance Practitioner.” FCPA Compliance & Ethics (blog), August 7, 2015. http://fcpacompliancereport.com/2015/08/social-media-week-part-v-tools-and-apps-for-the-compliance-practitioner/
Fox, Thomas. “Social Media Week Part VI—Social Media and CCO 3.0.” FCPA Compliance & Ethics (blog), August 10, 2015. http://fcpacompliancereport.com/2015/08/social-media-week-part-vi-social-media-and-cco-3-0/
Harris, Anne. “Balancing the Rules for Gifts, Hospitality.” National Defense (online magazine), September 2016. http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2016/september/Pages/BalancingtheRulesforGiftsHospitality.aspx
Silverstein, Ed. “The Future of Compliance.” Inside Counsel (online magazine), April 29, 2015. http://www.insidecounsel.com/2015/04/29/the-future-of-compliance?page=2&slreturn=1476470740