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Ethics and Compliance Programs Growing More Mature

Ethics and compliance programs are trending up, driven in large part by strong support from top executives, according to the 2019 Definitive Corporate Compliance Benchmark Report, published by NAVEX Global.

The research revealed that when leadership buys in to the strategic value of ethics and compliance programs, there is not only a greater likelihood of success but also an increased perception of organizational ethics. Strong executive backing also leads to greater program maturity and enables adoption of ethics and compliance technologies that improve program performance.

When asked whether the organization was "always ethical," only 25% of respondents with basic ethics and compliance programs said yes, and only 48% of all respondents noted that senior managers valued ethics and compliance as an important part of a comprehensive risk management strategy that has a proven return on investment.

The other 52% said that their programs were viewed primarily as an insurance policy or a necessary evil. While 85% of respondents reported using one or more automated solutions in their programs, organizations that use up to five of these solutions report increased ability to prevent violations.

In addition, 85% of respondents said a “centralized repository with easy access to the most current versions” was valuable or very valuable, and 78% rated “improved version control, reduced redundancy or increased accuracy of policies” equally as valuable, according to the report.

“It’s obvious to employees when leadership believes in the strategic value and measurable ROI of ethics and compliance programs. Leaders who view compliance programs as insurance policies or necessary evils – as many do, particularly within less-mature organizations – are sending the wrong message to their workforce,” said Carrie Penman, chief compliance officer and senior vice president, advisory services, NAVEX Global.

Additionally, 71% of respondents overall and 91% of those organizations with advanced programs offered an anonymous reporting channel, which is widely considered something every organization should have at this point.

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