The following excerpt from Kristy Grant-Hart’s How to be a Wildly Effective Compliance Officer: Learn the Secrets of Influence, Motivation and Persuasion to Become an In-Demand Business Asset (Brentham House 2015) was written with compliance officers in mind. But her words are equally applicable to executives and managers who want to make ethics and law part of the workplace.
Superman knows his mission is to fight a never-ending battle for truth and justice. Mighty Mouse sang, “Here I comes to save the day!” You too must know your mission. You must believe in your cause and know you will succeed. You must have a vision.
For me, I view what I’m doing as changing the world. “Oh sure!” says the critic. “You work for a company in the compliance office! It’s not exactly being the president of a country, or running an NGO dedicated to saving the environment!” No, but I’m on a mission.
The way I see it, corporate compliance is a movement, thrusting companies toward correct actions, a more ethical culture, and fairness. When compliance professionals perform anti-bribery training, they are making a difference in the world by explaining the laws to people, and making them aware of the red flags to alert them when a bribe is paid or being requested. I’ve been lucky enough to train employees in more than thirty-five countries. If just one person was affected in each training session, and sensitized to the effects of bribery within society, then I’ve helped to change the world.
Imagine how great the reach of the compliance movement is when compliance officers in thousands of companies perform training. Consider how quickly the world becomes a more transparent and fair place when multi-national companies decide it is more expensive and riskier to engage in bribery, or to collude or violate trade sanctions, than it is to do the job properly and ethically. Think of how many people will be affected because they are able to negotiate fairly with government contractors, or be paid a living wage, because bribes are not considered part of their compensation structure.
Remember that the anti-money laundering laws of the world are meant to stop criminal organizations, gangs, terrorism, and violence. Sometimes your job as a compliance officer may feel mundane, but don’t lose heart! When you’re checking to see if the Know Your Customer laws are being followed, you’re really keeping the world safer by stopping the flow of ill-gotten gains to people committing crimes.
When things are going badly at work, remember that your mission is far bigger than the company for which you work. As long as you are training, teaching, implementing procedures, following up on audit reports, and responding to whistle-blower complaints, you are a person on a mission to make the world a better place.