Training and awareness in Compliance

In the last #ComplianceKeys we made a brief comment on one of the most important elements that make up a Compliance System: the Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct (ComplianceKeys20).

In this #ComplianceKeys21, we follow the same line as the previous one, and we will deal with another equally essential issue regarding the configuration of a correct Compliance System: training and awareness in matters of Compliance.

Firstly, it is worth mentioning that staff training and awareness-raising on Compliance has already been the subject of controversy in the legal panorama, to such an extent that the Public Prosecutor’s Office, in Circular 1/2016 of 22 January, on the criminal liability of legal persons in accordance with the reform of the Spanish Criminal Code carried out by Organic Law 1/2015, already emphasised its relevance, stating that “the organisation and management models are not only aimed at avoiding criminal sanctions for the company but also at promoting a true ethical business culture“. In addition, the Supreme Court, in its ruling of 29 February 2016, indicates that a criminal risk training model must be developed that transmits to employees and managers the criminal risk prevention model or program implemented in the company. In order to promote this ethical business culture, it will be necessary to carry out training and awareness-raising actions.

Likewise, the regulatory standards on Compliance, such as UNE 19601 and ISO 37001, speak, among many other issues, of the importance of designing appropriate and effective training for employees to communicate Compliance risks, focusing on the need to train staff on criminal risk and how to avoid it. Thus, training is understood as an essential element of any organisation’s management system, being the channel through which the organisation’s staff becomes aware of the culture of compliance.

With the appropriate Compliance training, irregular situations that have become “normalised” in the organisation and over the years have become common practices commonly accepted by employees, customers and suppliers, such as certain behaviours that constitute corruption, can be stopped. These are often not perceived as negative.

Why is training and awareness-raising important in the organisation?

Designing and implementing a Compliance System is important, especially to mitigate risks, but it will not be efficient if managers and employees are not aware of it and do not understand it as useful and advantageous for the organisation. It is essential that staff know the basic principles and values on which their organisation is based, and, above all, the basic guidelines for behaviour and diligence that are applicable in their day-to-day work.

In addition, employees have the right to be informed of all obligations imposed on them in their professional activity by virtue of the employer’s duty to ensure compliance with the law and to clarify possible infringements committed.

It is therefore necessary to carry out actions through training, awareness-raising and sensitisation with the aim of achieving an effective change in the operations and in the conscience of the staff.

What should appropriate and effective training look like?

The objective of a training plan or program should be to ensure that all staff are competent to fulfil their professional role and commitment to Compliance.

Thus, good training is that which succeeds in raising awareness and transmitting a culture of compliance, and to this end, it must be configured as follows:

  • Tailored to the Compliance obligations and risks of the workforce, in relation to their roles and responsibilities, and focusing, where necessary, on knowledge gaps.
  • Practical and understandable for the different stakeholders and sensitivities of the target audiences.
  • Aligned with internal policies and the reality of the organisation.
  • Relevant to the daily work performed.
  • Be up to date with the internal and external regulations that may be applicable.
  • Attractive and entertaining.

How can effective training and awareness-raising be achieved?

Ethics and compliance are complex issues, and there is no single method that guarantees success for compliance efforts. However, a combination of training, incentives, culture and monitoring is undoubtedly necessary, so success will lie in determining the right mix for each organisation.

Therefore, the best approach will be to develop the right training and awareness-raising strategy on the organisation’s values and internal policies. In any case, the training and awareness-raising strategy should always be tailored to the organisation and its specific needs at any given time.

What is the purpose of staff awareness-raising and training?

A correct Compliance System must aim not only to prevent and effectively detect malpractice or conduct in the organisation, but must also contribute to creating a true ethical culture, committed to compliance with the internal and external regulations to which it is subject. It is vital that all staff internalise the values and principles of the organisation, thus providing them with the tools to make good decisions. All this can be achieved with an appropriate Compliance training plan, tailor-made for each organisation.

In short, the Compliance System has no sense, nor effect, if the staff (from directors and managers to employees) do not know about it, as it is clear that “what is not known, is not communicated.

Department of Compliance in Molins Defensa Penal.

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