FCPA Compliance and Ethics Blog

October 18, 2013

Ethics, Compliance and School Drop-Off Etiquette

Ed. Note-today we have a guest post from Jay Rosen, Vice President, Language Solutions at Merrill Brink International. He shares with us how he stopped worrying about early morning road rage and learned to embrace his fellow compliant (and noncompliant) parents.

I recently returned from the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics 13th annual Compliance and Ethics Institute (CEI) in Washington, DC.  I would like to thank CEI Co-chairs Dan Roach and Odell Guyton, as well as SCCE CEO Roy Snell and his entire team for running and executing one of the premier ethics and compliance conferences in the world.

Last fall, I attended my first SCCE event — the 12th annual CEI.   Over the past year I have been moved by the passion, commitment and generosity of the SCCE and Compliance and Ethics community.  I have developed great virtual and over- the-phone friendships and it is an added bonus to meet in person with colleagues from all over the world and across the country.  I am already looking forward to the 14th CEI which will be held in Chicago from September 14 – 17th, 2014.

With much joy, I was settling back into my routine and taking my five year old twin daughters to kindergarten.  While I was away, one of the parents sent an email to the entire kindergarten class parents list serve which shared the following…

Exhibit 1

 “To the dear parent (mom) who drives a black Cadillac Escalade, when you get to school’s gate in the morning and realize other parents are waiting in front of the gate, please do not go to the other side of the street and make a left turn in front of everyone else who is waiting there before you. I am sure everyone else’s time is as valuable as yours. Thank you for your cooperation.

From: another mom who was waiting outside for ten minutes

Exhibit 2

Dear Mom who was Waiting Outside for Ten Minutes,

Thank you for posting!  Let’s provide a safe learning environment for our children and lead by our positive actions.
Exhibit 3

Dear Jay 

Thank you very much for your support. After two angry e mails from two parents about why I used their e mail to send them this posting, yours is very supporting. I hope at least this posting will help others realize what they do is wrong.

As this is a new experience for kindergartners, going to class with the “BIG” kids, being dropped off by Mommy or Daddy (mostly DaddyJ), the school has made special provisions for parents to drop their children off in front of the kindergarten class between 7:45 – 8:00 AM.  While this is a courtesy for the parents, it is most importantly intended to provide a safe introduction for kids into their new daily school routine.

If a parent arrives before 7:45 AM, they are supposed to simply pull to the curb and wait until the gate opens precisely at 7:45.  Over a five minute span, anywhere between 2 and 7 vehicles will get in line.  Without fail, there are two things that can happen –

  • One parent (usually driving a black SUV, this is LA after all), decides to cut the line, zoom up to the front and power through just as the gates are opening.  Either a case of too many Vente drips this morning, or maybe having recently completed watching all 7 episodes of The Fast and the Furious or
  • Another inventive parent, comes from the other side of the street and executes an illegal U-turn into three lanes of on-coming morning school/rush hour traffic

I have twin 5.5 year old daughters (who many of you know about and have been forced to see all of their pictures… especially “Sassy Girls Going to Disneyland”)and one of them is always concerned with the concept of being “Fair”.  So let’s look at this situation through the lens of being Fair and Safe.

This rule was designed with having our children’s safety in mind.  Let’s create a safe way, to help our children transition into loving their education and at the same time, create a convenient way for parents to drop off their kids.  So far, so good.  Sounds like a good idea.  Right

When one parent begins to feel that his or her time is more “Valuable” than another’s that is where the problems begin.  Hmmm… let’s see if we can paint this dilemma in a business context.  Perhaps there is an industry or global standard designed to ensure workplace safety, clean production of milk powder or even provide a level playing field for conducting global business and winning sales contracts.  Once one parent or Company feels that they are above the rest, we start down a slippery slope.

This hits at the crux of why people and companies should act in an ethical way.  Should we follow rules, laws and industry standards because it is the right thing to do, or should we follow these rules because they have been designed to safeguard certain situations?

Being the recovering screen writer that I am, the vision of Tom Hulce from Animal House pops into my head with a devil and angel hovering over his shoulders.

Obviously, in my potential Pre-School Road Rage Drop-off Scenario, there is only one acceptable way of behaving and it is precisely for both of these reasons.  Safely observe the drop-off to ensure our children’s safety and because it is the right thing to do.

Now when face with this decision in the business world, it should be an equally simple choice to make.  Do the right thing.  But once money, power, prestige, hitting monthly sales targets, and a slew of other factors come into play, it becomes a less clear cut and harder decision to make.

So Jay, umm, great story and all, but you said that you were going to impart something to us about Compliance and Ethics.  Yep, that’s right.  Just as Tom Hulce did in Animal House, we often have those two competitive forces within us – Right and Wrong, Good and Bad, Red Sox and Yankees… but at the end of the day, we need to make the right choice.

For most of us of us, this is an extremely hard thing to do.  But thanks to the vision of Dan Roach, Odell Guyton and the leadership of Roy Snell, over the past 13 years, the SCCE has created a kindergarten for business leaders and compliance and ethics practitioners to learn and develop the proper tools to help their colleagues make the right choices in difficult and challenging situations.

Robert Fulghum penned his famous book — All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.   And I would add, “All I Really Need to Know (about Ethics and Compliance) I Learned at the SCCE CEI.  Now if only I could find a way to deal with my morning drop-off rage.  Hey, how about cutting down on those 3 14 oz New England Patriot travel mugs of coffee each morning…

Jay Rosen is a Vice President, Language Solutions at Merrill Brink International, based in Los Angeles, where he advises businesses and law firms on translation solutions for FCPA, Ethics, Compliance, Code of Conduct and eLearning. He can be reached via email at jay.rosen@merrillcorp.com and via phone at 310-729-6746.

================================================================================================

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. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. 

February 8, 2012

Haas School Training for Compliance and Ethics Leadership

There are a myriad of compliance and ethics conferences across the country each year. I regularly attend and speak at some of these. There are also more regular webinar and local events which may focus on specific topics or themes. However, there are relatively few educational programs, put on by universities or business schools which focus on the ‘how to’ of compliance leadership. This situation will soon change.

A recent article in the European Business Review, entitled “Leading with Ethics and Compliance”, author Mark Meaney discussed the Occupy Wall Street movement and similar protests in the context of the requirement for “business schools to address the need for greater accountability and transparency in business decision-making.” He pointed towards Dean Rich Lyons of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, who has argued for the “importance of creating a culture within the business school that encourages students to go beyond themselves as future business leaders in learning to accept responsibility for the impact on society of their actions.” In addition to its traditional business school curriculum the Haas School also has “training and education for individuals who will have as their function to change the ethical climate of corporations from the inside in their role as Chief Ethics and Compliance Officers (CECOs).”

This outreach program is based upon research done at the Haas School which concluded that compliance programs usually adopt one of two approaches to corporate ethics and compliance training: a rules-based approach or a values-based approach. The Haas School has taken the belief that neither approach is entirely effective at corporate compliance and ethics. In a rules-based approach, compliance programs use “deterrence as a means of enforcing employee compliance with corporate policies, ethical standards, and government rules and regulations.” This emphasis on the rules and the investigation and punishment of employees creates a ‘culture of fear’ that stifles open communication. In a values-based approach, compliance programs will “emphasize creating a corporate culture that encourages employees to speak up about potential issues without the fear of retaliation. While a vast improvement over the rules-based approach, the values-based approach to corporate compliance and ethics still does not go far enough.”

The Haas School’s approach is that an ethics and compliance program only becomes truly effective when an organization fully integrates compliance into the company’s overall strategic planning process. Once senior executives make the connection between brand reputation and success in an “idea economy” they will realize the return on investment (ROI) of an ethics and compliance program. Companies can then learn how best to leverage their ethics and compliance programs in strategic planning to maximize innovation and performance with integrity in gaining a competitive edge.

The focus has led to the creation of an executive learning program, entitled  “Leading with Ethics and Compliance”, which is designed to provide compliance practitioners with the necessary tools that will empower them to achieve strategic relevance by partnering with key decision makers to cultivate influence, earning a reputation as a creative thinker intent on progress and not obstruction, and by measuring how ethics and compliance improves the organization’s ability to meet its corporate objectives.

This intensive three day intensive course will be taught at the UC Berkeley, Center for Executive Education from February 13 to 15. I had the opportunity to review the agenda and its faculty and speakers recently and it appears to have an impressive array of notables in the compliance and ethics field. The faculty includes the aforementioned Mark Meaney and others from the Haas School, melded with speakers from a wide range of compliance practices, both in-house and third party service providers.

The curriculum includes the following broad categories: (1) Ethics and Compliance 3.0, which includes topics such as From Check Box to Culture to Strategy; Ethics, Compliance, and Organizational Strategy; and Leading Change, Leveraging Culture. (2) The E&C Officer as Strategic Partner, including topics such as Power and Influence with Integrity; Transformational Leadership and Building Your Base. (3) Tools of the Successful E&C Officer; including such topics as Data Privacy and Security in Information Management; Managing Hotlines and Conducting Internal Investigations; Global Compliance Risk Mitigation; and Sector Regulatory Update.

If you hold a leadership position in compliance, or aspire to, this Haas School program would appear to be an excellent place for you to hear about some of the most current best practices in compliance leadership. For more information on the program, click here.

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. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2012

Blog at WordPress.com.