FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog

January 21, 2010

Conducting Effective Compliance Training-Part II


What type of training is most effective in the ethics and compliance arena. The consensus seems to be that there are three general approaches to ethics and compliance training which have been used successfully. The first is the most traditional and it is in-person classroom training. This gives employees an opportunity to see, meet and speak directly with a Compliance Officer, not an insignificant dynamic in the corporate environment. Such personal training also sends a strong message of commitment to compliance and ethics when training is held away from a corporation’s home office. It gives employees the opportunity to interact with the Compliance Officer by asking questions which are relevant to markets and locations outside the United States. Lastly it can also lead to confidential discussions after such in-person training.

An important part of in-person training is the opportunity to interact with the audience through Q&A. There are a couple different approaches to Q&A. The first is to solicit questions from the audience. However many employees are reluctant, for a variety of different reasons, to raise their hands and ask questions in front of others. This can be overcome by soliciting written questions on cards or note pads. A second technique is to lead the audience through hypothetical examples in which the audience is broken down into small (up to 5 person) discuss groups to discuss a situation and propose a response.

The second approach is on-line training. Rick Chapman, Assistant General Counsel for Halliburton in its Compliance & Ethics Practice Group, has said that online training is a one of several training approaches used by Halliburton in ethics and compliance training. On-line training can be a helpful adjunct to live training because it can permeate a globally distributed organization and lends itself to automatic recordkeeping, tickling, and expiration management. He discussed this approach and its use by Halliburton to enable it to “effectively reach every employee at Halliburton worldwide” in Ethisphere Magazine, June 7, 2007 “Expert Corner” Ethics and compliance courses are tailored to different categories of Halliburton employees and provided in multiple languages to ensure that all Halliburton employees will participate in ethics and compliance related learning activities at least once every two years by taking our general ethics and compliance training and/or issue-specific courses such as FCPA.

A third option has been suggested in Wrageblog. It is a combination of live in-person training followed by a live Q&A session filmed. Such a program can then be shown at other company offices around the world. Such a presentation should be lead in-person by a Compliance Officer who can follow up the filmed presentation by conducting a Q&A teleconference with the Compliance staff in the company’s home office. Wrageblog believes that this approach can be a “very robust and inexpensive way to reach a large number of employees with a clear, tailored and forceful compliance message.”

All three ethics and compliance training approaches should be coordinated and both the attendance and result recorded for the combined approach, online training and traditional training for all types of employees in all countries. Results can be tabulated through short questionnaires immediately following the training and bench-marked through more comprehensive interviewing of selected training participants to determine overall effectiveness.

Whatever approach is used, one of the critical factors is the length of time of the training session. While lawyers and ethics and compliance professionals can (sometimes) sit through 8 hours of such training, it is almost impossible to keep the attention of business and operations employees for such a length of time. The presentation must be kept to a manageable length and number of PowerPoint slides before eyes start to glaze over. My experience in all types of legal and compliance training has led me to believe that 3 hours is about the maximum length of in-person training which can hold the attention of business and operations employees for ethics and compliance training. For on-line training I would suggest a maximum length of one hour.


As noted in Part I, a company’s ethics and compliance training may well comprise several different audiences and different cultures around the globe. Top notch training should be able to reach all of the learners at such training sessions. One way to do so is to grab the audience’s attention early by demonstrating the commitment of top management to ethics and compliance and make clear to each audience member how compliance laws such as the FCPA pertain directly to them. In his blog, the FCPA Professor has put forward a suggestion in his posting, “FCPA — The First Few Minutes” by proposing that an FCPA training session begin with an opening such as:

“Today, I will be talking about a U.S. law that applies to all of you – regardless of whether you are in the sales and marketing department, the executive office suite, the finance and audit department, or the logistics department. This law can cover a wide range of payments the company makes, or could make, either directly or indirectly, in doing business or seeking business in foreign markets. Your understanding of this law and how it may relate to your specific job function will best ensure that the company remains compliant with this law and is able to achieve its business objectives.”

Another technique to get the attention of the audience simply might be remind the them that hardly anyone looks good in a prison-orange jumpsuit and that you are here to present training to keep them out of such clothing.


At the end of the day, an effective training program will incorporate all learning tools available to reach the widest target audience possible. An individual’s understanding of the rules is always important but it should be grounded in a company’s ethical corporate culture. Coupled together, these Approaches listed in Part I, together with types of training discussed in Part II, should embolden employees to make the right decision even if they cannot remember a specific rule governing a situation. More importantly, such effective training provides knowledge about what an employee can and cannot do when confronted those ‘grey areas’ that exist in the real world of international business.

This is the second of a two-part series on ethics and compliance training. Part I was posted on January 19, 2001

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2010

1 Comment »

  1. […] training is what Tom is talking about in this article, and his two-parter (Part I, Part II), and what the FCPA Blog talks about here.  Formal training is classroom training, or an online […]

    Pingback by Really, I’m An Agreeable Guy, or, Why There’s No Such Thing as “Compliance Training” « Open Air Blog — January 24, 2011 @ 3:20 pm | Reply

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