What is Compliance?

Everybody talks about 'compliance', but what is really about? Well, the term ‘compliance’ is generally used to describe the adherence to recognized standards of conduct (by an organization, through it employees). These may be laws, regulations, industry codes or the like. 

The terms compliance and ethics are often used interchangeably. While compliance is often seen as living up to the minimum (but critical) standards, ethics often refers to moral principles and norms or behavior that may not be regulated but simply express the ‘right thing to do’. Of course, as societal expectations develop over time, ethical standards also evolve and laws change in response, thereby shifting the expected norm for what is expected and must be complied with. It is therefore important for leaders to stay informed about societal and legal developments in order to guide employee (and own) conduct. 

So why bother? Well, the topic has become imperative in today’s society in order to ensure the trust of employees, customers, suppliers, investors and the public at large. But also because leaders are making efforts to secure a legal safeguard to protect themselves and their companies and prevent the major legal, financial and reputational risks - and outright company collapses - arising from unethical conduct anywhere in the world.

We have also seen a sharp increase in regulations, enforcement and societal expectations worldwide. And this has been combined with unprecedented transparency arising from technological developments and social media, exposing unethical conduct.

Moreover, a commitment to responsible conduct sends a strong message to key stakeholders, including employees, customers, business partners, investors or society at large. Compliance is therefore no longer an option, but a necessity in order to maintain a license to operate for any company of any size, anywhere in the world.

In order to ensure ethical and compliant conduct, companies have to implement an ethics & compliance program. It provides a framework for managing conduct and serves to establish (codes and policies), promote (leadership and incentives) and enforce ethical standards (helplines, audits and sanctions). The PolicyStore created the PolicyApp to enable companies of all sizes, industries and geographies, to instantly implement key elements of such a program.