Culture assessment and risk mitigation

In 2007, the Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI) demonstrated that there are two drivers reducing risks in organizations: a robust compliance program and an ethical culture.

The ECI research found that you need both drivers to effectively reduce risks; that it is more effective to start with building a compliance program; and that once you have a robust program in place, the effects of an ethical culture on reducing risks are greater than the effects of the compliance program.

These findings, especially the last one, should be considered when creating or deploying employee surveys. Many organizations with robust compliance programs are asking survey questions that focus solely on the program and ignore the state of the culture. These organizations are missing an opportunity to improve their culture and to significantly reduce their risks.

These two drivers (programs and culture) produce four positive outcomes. Good survey questions will measure these outcomes and, at the same time, the culture. The outcomes are:

  • Fewer people observing misconduct
  • More people willing to report observed misconduct
  • Fewer people feeling pressured to commit a misconduct
  • Fewer people perceiving retaliation as a result of reporting misconduct

Every organization should be measuring its program and culture. And for those with robust programs, a focus on culture, in these times, is sorely needed.

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