Duncan Milne (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Risk & Compliance Director for Bupa’s Latin America region, based out of Miami, Florida, USA.
In large organizations it can sometimes feel like a small compliance team is unable to connect with all the far corners of the business, to understand the challenges and specific needs of different areas, and to be able to cascade key messages in a way that will resonate with different audiences. A program of dedicated “compliance champions” may be a means of building more effective relationships between the compliance team and the wider business, thereby enhancing compliance awareness and the maturity of the compliance program at all levels.
Who are compliance champions?
The roles and responsibilities of compliance champions vary between organizations, but typically they are groups representing different areas and functions who operate as a link between the compliance team and the wider business. These responsibilities are performed in addition to their day-to-day roles.
They receive regular training from the compliance team on how to identify compliance issues and how to help their own teams report and mitigate issues that may arise. Champions can help the compliance team “take the temperature” of the organization at any one time and help identify gaps in knowledge to enable tailored training for different areas. In turn, they can act as ambassadors for the compliance team to spread messaging to different areas peer to peer and in a common language.
Why compliance champions?
There is increasingly a mandate from regulators in many jurisdictions that businesses should have clear processes in place and accountability for how compliance issues are identified, managed, and escalated throughout the organization.
Typically in large organizations, the approach to incident reporting and accountability for compliance culture can be inconsistent, depending on the business area or function, and so a dedicated body of champions can significantly improve understanding and engagement with the company’s compliance program across frontline and mid-level positions.
This increased staff awareness and direct channels of contact between first-line and second-line functions can effectively create an early warning system to proactively understand risk themes across the business. Further, compliance champions can become the drivers and agents of the compliance culture, engaging people across the business to develop and live the desired corporate and ethical behaviors day to day.