How to build a culture of compliance

Kerrie-Anne Chinn, Content & Editorial Manager

Compliance is a very important part of any organization, regardless of whether you’re running a small business or managing a large global company.

Being compliant is essential for many aspects of your business, from local legislation, tax regulations, employee rights, intellectual property, data management and more. 'In its simplest form, you can think of compliance as playing by the rules. Failing to play by the rules can put your business at risk, resulting in significant fines for your company, as well as damage to your brand and reputation.


Unfortunately, company scandals involving ethics and corruption continue to demonstrate that many organizations are failing when it comes to building a culture of compliance. In the interest of your company’s reputation and long-term success, you must understand the importance of compliance and build an ethical work culture that respects and follows it.

So how do you achieve this? Read on for more information on how to create a culture of compliance in your organization. 

Foster an awareness of compliance in the workplace

To build a better culture of compliance you need to lead by example and start from the top, with CEOs, directors and managers showing their commitment to compliance. Without the active support of senior management in this area, your organization’s compliance policies will be little more than a token gesture, existing purely on paper rather than practice.

Managers and team leaders need to be aware of employee conduct (and misconduct) to help create a more visible culture of compliance. Make this a fixed part of your corporate culture, as you continue to build a strong and positive attitude towards compliance.

Fostering an awareness of compliance and instilling this value in your employees will go a long way in making your company more ethically sound.

Provide ongoing compliance training for all staff

One of the best things you can do to strengthen your corporate culture is to invest in ongoing active training for staff.

Through training, you can effectively teach employees how to recognize and respond to compliance issues. Involve all staff in compliance training, with the opportunity to revisit topics regularly to make sure their knowledge on organizational policies is always up-to-date and accurate.

You may also like to incorporate the topic into staff performance reviews to ensure employees are understanding and retaining this important knowledge, as well as being rewarded for demonstrating ethical behaviour.

Keep up-to-date with compliance regulations

In 2016, there has been a steady increase in regulatory initiatives worldwide. The compliance landscape is ever-changing, meaning businesses need to keep up-to-date with regulatory changes across the globe. 

To make sure your organization stays ahead, develop and implement a communication strategy to create awareness of compliance in the workplace, targeted at all staff, and consistently incorporate new regulations into your existing compliance program. 

Increase your investment in compliance

If you’ve been neglecting setting up a compliance program, or updating your policies in this area due to financial reasons, think about the cost of potential fines and damage to your brand’s reputation. With fines of up to US $20M and imprisonment for up to 30 years for OFAC violations, you’ll soon see that it’s worth the cost.

There are significant benefits for companies who choose to invest in a better culture of compliance, including:

  • Strong brand reputation and awareness
  • Increased bottom line
  • Lower operational costs
  • Improved efficiencies
  • Reduced risks and potential fines

Organizations with high levels of integrity and ethics can be seen to have higher productivity, profitability, employee engagement and overall risk reduction, and compliance plays a big part in that.

Find out more about creating a culture of compliance

With so many tools and resources online, it’s easy to learn more about building a better culture of compliance.

Get a short introduction to this topic with the practical online course Promoting an Ethical Culture in Your Organization, which considers the important role of ethics and culture in organizations.

For more in-depth learning, L.E.A.D. with Integrity: Promoting a Culture of Ethical Conduct & Compliance looks at how you can turn a Code of Conduct into a living, breathing part of your organization.

This e-learning course helps managers and team leaders step up to the daily task of promoting ethical conduct and ensuring compliance in the workplace, through demonstrating personal commitment to their organization's culture of integrity. At the end of the course you’ll have a better understanding of the function of your organization's ethics and compliance program, as well as how to communicate standards of conduct to employees.

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