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By Vinayak Bindal, Sub-Regional Compliance Officer, Sea, Merck
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) published revised guidance on April 30, 2019 discussing various factors prosecutors should take into consideration while evaluating effectiveness of the compliance program of a company under investigation.The revised guidance gives greater importance to “Company Culture” in measuring the effectiveness of compliance programs. Guidelines state that “prosecutors should also assess whether the company has established policies and procedures that incorporate the culture of compliance into its day-to-day operations.” Its clear that its no longer sufficient to have a code of conduct, policies and procedures or a hotline. The focus is now on how effectively compliance program has been integrated into day to day business operations. To do so, the organization should set the right compliance “tone at the top”, make sure it percolates from top to bottom, reaching every single employee. The alignment between what the top management does, and company’s core values is important for an effective compliance program. Effective compliance programs are “value driven” and not just “rules driven”. So how does an organization integrate compliance culture in its day to day business operations? Here are some thoughts: 1. Make the compliance program “Values drive” not “Rules driven”: Employees working in companies with strong culture, feel less pressurized to resort to unethical practices to achieve organizational targets. Employee relate more to the values of the company which in turn leads to fewer instances of misconduct and greater commitment to compliance. Company should include ethics and integrity in core values.