As I continue my advocacy work on behalf of white collar wives I've begun to delve into the realm of corporate culture. You're likely asking yourself "what's a nice girl like you doing in a place like that?" The answer is simple. I needed to gain a better understanding of why financial crimes continue to make headlines on a weekly, (and often daily), basis. All I've come up with so far are more questions. Like, whose minding the store?
We've all heard the phrase and understand the importance of "tone at the top". I'm speaking to the choir when I say that a healthy tone means that there is good risk management in place and that compliance is strictly adhered to. And that it is of the utmost importace that there is not an overemphasis on profits at the expense of ethics. This is all just plain best business practices. But what if the tone of a corporation is not healthy? What if your company "tone" says do whatever it takes to get the job done? Where does your own ethical barometer fall within a corporation that sets a poor tone?
Compliance officers have the enormous task of implementing company policy and assuring that the "tone at the top" is delivered effectively to all employees. One of the most important functions of a CCO is to ensure that employees understand corporate codes of conduct and ethics and the dire consequences for non-compliance of company standards and practices. I don't have any fancy letters that follow my name such as, MBA, CPA, or SFO. In my profession the only three letters that follow my name
are MOM. But the job of a CCO and a MOM are very similar. The main job of a MOM is to make sure that those we are responsible for are well mannered and follow the rules as outlined within the MOM "family guidelines" so that they can go out into the world and be able to navigate their surroundings optimally and contribute to the sustainability of a civil society. In order for this to occur there must be proper teaching of ethics, cause and effect as well as risk management. Without these lessons we simply set our children up to fail. Unfortunately there are some MOMs who do not teach their children these fundamental tenets and the consequence to us all is that many children, left to their own devices, will go out into the world and wreak havoc. Many will be incarcerated because of a lack of due diligence from the MOM. This ends up costing the family extreme heartache not to mention the millions of dollars spent annually housing inmates.
If MOMs are expected to raise law abiding citizens who are ethical as well as creative and productive contributors to society then CCOs should be expected to perform at the same level. We all have a job to do and to do less than is required is not acceptable. So, corporations and compliance officers, please help to keep our sons, daughters, mothers and fathers out of prison by keeping your "tone at the top" at it's highest possible level each and every day by not placing profitability over ethics and teaching your "children" well.