Welcome to a special five-part blog post series on the New Traliant, sponsored by Traliant, LLC. Over this series, we have discussed what is new at the company and key issues that Traliant is helping to lead and define the online training industry in going forward. I have visited with John Arendes, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), on what is new at Traliant and what the Department of Justice (DOJ) has communicated to the compliance community regarding its expectations around online training and communications; Maggie Smith, Vice President of Human Resources, on the role of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in your corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) program; and Scott Schneider, Head of Content Development, on your Code of Conduct and anti-corruption training. In this concluding Part 5, I visit with Scott Schneider on the evolution anti-bribery/anti-corruption training.
Schneider identified three key components of a successful anti-bribery/anti-corruption training program. First is the management leadership perspective which is essentially about goals and incentives. This area would include such issues as the compensation structure, goal setting and promotion criteria. Second is the culture issue, which is moving from a “win at all cost culture” to a “we do the right thing culture.” Finally, is the training itself where you need to provide employees both the information and guidance, they need to forestall any bribery and corruption. Schneider emphasized that for training to be effective, “those first two movers; management and culture are very powerful. If you have all three movers pushing the same direction, training can be very impactful because it gives people information and guidance that they can use.” However, Schneider cautioned, “If you’ve got the first two pulling against, then training will typically not be effective and indeed could move the category of background noise.”
We turned to the issue of ‘effective’ training as laid out in the 2019 and 2020 Update to the Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs. Schneider believes the issue of effectiveness largely turns on the context of a corporate compliance program and corporate culture. He believes “training should shift the perspective, the point of view to the learner. It is not simply not giving cash but items readily transferable into cash, such as gift cards.” Another example he provided was what to do when your product is stuck on a dock? “Is it okay to slip someone 20 bucks? Or who do I talk to in our organization? You have to candidly have a conversation and say we know these are hard issues. We want to help you make the right decision. We want to make sure that we’re supporting the decisions that you’re making.”
We next turned to targeted training. Here the key is risk management. Schneider said, “You have to know your organization and how it does business, then spend some time, effort and resources figuring out where the weak points are.” From there you can assess your risk and train those who are at higher risk and those who are gatekeepers. One example might be “an Accounts Payable (AP) clerk working in SAP. They might be able to see if due diligence was done and approved on a third-party agent or that a contract authorizing payment is in place if it is attached in the SAP module. That could be one control you would have as a backstop, but you would need to train the AP clerk on what to look for in their duties.”
This ties back into your overall risk management framework. During your risk assessment(s) you can see which employees, geographic areas or business operations might be at high risk. From there you can provide the basic anti-corruption training and then move to more targeted training, which can also have another set of characteristics as advocated by the DOJ in the 2020 Update to the Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs. Once again Schneider believes everyone should get the basics to “level the playing field.” From there you can move to shorter training and communication pieces, which can be sent via email. This is the lesson from the 2013 Morgan Stanley declination, that short effective training and communications sent by email will be viewed favorably by the DOJ.
But Schneider said that other types of training and communications can be used. He pointed to the example of the “lunch n’ learn.” It could be something like your middle managers taking 10 minutes to talk about the importance of anti-corruption to their direct reports. Schneider noted that all employees who attend such meetings come with a basic understanding of the issues but that “helping people get the bigger picture and then reminding people of that picture is important.” He ended by noting, however, that it all ties back to those three concepts he started with aligning incentives with culture and then reinforcing through training.