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Tips for Creating a Culture of Compliance

Written by Schellman on Nov 24, 2015

Effective compliance and risk management goes far beyond a set of policies. To be effective, a company’s compliance and risk management program must be embedded in its culture. All too often, companies see compliance as a separate activity that does not need to be integrated into the day-to-day business operations. All employees should share responsibility, and an intelligent risk framework should be created that brings compliance out in the open — letting employees know the importance of compliance while allowing them to communicate. But that’s often easier said than done.

Here are four tips to create a culture of compliance within your organization:

Evaluate Your Current State

Before embarking on an organization-wide change, an important first step is to take stock of the current state of your company and its culture. Evaluate the following:

  • The organization’s risks and compliance obligations
  • Who is responsible for each risk and what controls are in place to guard against them
  • How your company responds to control failures and what supporting technology is being used to help prevent or detect these failures
Get Everyone on the Same Page and On Board

Once you’ve evaluated your current state, it’s time to get your leadership on board with a more holistic risk compliance approach. Usually this involves the involvement of the CEO, CRO and board of directors. It’s essential that each member understand the importance of a culture of compliance. To do this, you’ll need to clearly outline the risk management benefits of holistic risk compliance as well as mention any up-front investments (like technology) that will be needed ahead of time.

In addition, it is just as important to get various department heads involved in the plan. Explain to them what is at stake. Once they are on board, their respective teams will be more likely to become involved.

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Educate Employees

A culture of compliance is impossible without successfully getting everyone involved. To do this, you’ll need to educate employees on the importance of compliance and risk management. This can be done through training, providing frequent feedback, and giving employees plenty of opportunities to practice compliant work styles. To get buy in from senior management, invite them to participate in training sessions by speaking during an introduction. This will demonstrate to employees the importance of compliance and show that everyone throughout the company is involved. Additionally, training does not have to be a one-time event; it should be ongoing and allow employees to revisit compliance topics repeatedly over the course of their careers with the organization, according to Inside Counsel.

Provide Incentives

Despite your best efforts, employees are far more likely to take compliance training seriously if they’re clear about what they stand to gain. One way to do this is through incentives. These can be tied to performance reviews, which could include evaluating an employee’s adoption of ethical business practices and adherence to compliance standards. Providing compensation based on program adherence is a simple way to get employees to keep compliance top of mind.

Creating a culture of compliance has many benefits for organizations. Taking stock of your company’s current state, educating and getting senior leadership on board, as well as training, educating, and providing incentives for employees can help create an open, flourishing culture of compliance.

Topics: Compliance and Certification, Education, BrightLine




Schellman & Company, LLC (Schellman) is a leading provider of attestation and compliance services. We are the only company in the world that is a CPA firm, a globally licensed PCI Qualified Security Assessor, an ISO Certification Body, HITRUST CSF Assessor, a FedRAMP 3PAO, and most recently, an APEC Accountability Agent. Renowned for expertise tempered by practical experience, Schellman's professionals provide superior client service balanced by steadfast independence. Our approach builds successful, long-term relationships and allows our clients to achieve multiple compliance objectives through a single third-party assessor.