Compliance Officer Day is recognized globally, every September 26, to shine a spotlight on the professionals who have dedicated their careers to the field of ethics and compliance. Last year, our key focus was to promote wellness for compliance officers, and it’s something we think is important to your long-term success and personal growth. As part of that continued theme, we’ve just released our brand new Compliance Coloring Book, designed to be an ethical escape from stress and burnout.

This year, we’re focused on building new connections with members of the E&C community so you can help each other succeed and overcome the challenges that come with the job.

To succeed as a compliance professional, it’s important to be comfortable with the fact that culture and behavioral change takes time. Focus on achieving a few things each year and planning your compliance journey for the long term. With that big-picture perspective, it’s easier to see the progress you make, cultural trends you’re helping to shape, and communicate the benefits of that journey to get the support of your board.

Having worked with many organizations at various stages of their compliance journey, I’m sharing eight key things compliance officers can do to reduce some of the pressure that comes with the job.

1. Don’t create your compliance program in a silo

Take an integrated risk management approach and work with the rest of your organization to help elevate your compliance program so it’s built-in as opposed to bolted-on. Your corporate culture is the sum of all parts of the organization, and when both designing and implementing your compliance program, connect with the rest of the organization and benefit from the success of each initiative. Make sure your organization truly values its stated values. If you value trust, demonstrate trusting people.

If you value truth, make sure you have an open culture with no fear of speaking up. If you value integrity, celebrate when integrity was demonstrated.

2. Gather your crew

Don’t go at it alone. Amplify your efforts by recruiting ethics champions within your organization who can influence and help embed the importance of ethical decision making by sharing their own story and examples.  They can be another open door for employees to ask for guidance and address concerns outside of the formal team structure, fostering openness and trust throughout the organization.

3. Opportuntyisnowhere

How did you read that title? ‘Opportunity is nowhere’ or, ‘Opportunity is now here‘? Employees are more likely to be enthused by the positive impact of compliance, so flip the tone from ‘it has to be done’ to a positive message that builds self-governing interest so everyone feels responsible for taking part. When a strong ethical and compliance culture resonates from within your organization, it can create new opportunities to stand out from the competition, attract more customers, be more sustainable, and entice the best people to work in your organization.

4. Don’t waste time re-inventing the wheel

Like SAI Global, there are companies producing ethics and compliance learning content to meet your employee education needs. These companies engage with subject matter experts, legal teams, research on your behalf and invest in the latest learning technology. Make the most of that, instead of re-inventing the wheel producing your own learning content. Cost savings may look good on paper in the short term, but ultimately your time is more valuable.

5. Adjust your branding focus

Creating a brand that encapsulates the very reason for all your compliance initiatives (e.g. ‘Our Way’) is extremely powerful in influencing how we behave. A brand can make your program more memorable and is something that sticks with employees over time. But when you have limited time to launch a new code or learning content, it’s OK to adjust your branding focus. Ensure your licensed learning content is customizable and focus on achieving branding goals in the time you have. Add your corporate logo, an introduction from the CEO, and relevant images, scenarios, and resources that reflect your globally diverse organization. All of these actions will help employees to relate to the content. You can make the various stages of branding a part of your long-term strategy.

6. Measure in different ways

The most common question from compliance professionals are variants of ‘How do I measure the effectiveness of my program?’ I usually respond with ‘What do you want to measure? Do you want to measure what I know, how I behave or what I should do, what I could do?’ Ultimately, you need to answer internally ‘What is the organization looking to achieve short term and long term?’  Measuring effectiveness can and should be done in many different ways and also at any time. Even if you only have twenty days to launch your compliance program, it doesn’t mean the opportunity to measure is lost. You can gather data analytics from online course interactions, culture assessments, incident focus groups, and so on – all of these count toward measuring the effectiveness. Some can be immediate (data analytics) and others best suited to long-term strategy. There are many studies that prove how we change our behavior based on our circumstances.


7. Give yourself time

I’ve worked with many compliance professionals who need to launch in one month. There’s nothing wrong with that sometimes, but if your compliance program is just another item to tick off your ‘to do’ list, it will be received that way, and the tone and importance for your program will be lost.  If you want employees to spend their time to understand and change behavior, then you also need to spend time making sure it’s relevant and right. Be authentic with your approach to compliance.


8. Look after yourself

The job you do as compliance professionals is hard work. You have a lot of stakeholders. You have a long journey ahead, so take time to focus and celebrate what you have achieved. Just because you didn’t manage it this year, doesn’t mean there isn’t time next year.


We hope you have a memorable Compliance Officer Day, and if you aren’t an ethics and compliance professional but made your way to the bottom of this post, send it to the compliance team in your organization! And don’t forget your Compliance Coloring Book!