FCPA & Ethics highlighted at latest Risk Series

Ethics is more relevant than ever before; In public and private entities, ethical decision making seems to have taken a back seat to short-term profitability be it monetary gain or popular opinion. Companies like Volkswagen, Wells Fargo and Equifax are seeing share prices in freefall while simultaneously dealing with a public relations nightmare.

The Risk Institute hosted its first continuing professional development session of the academic year on October 11, 2017, on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and ethical decision making. Speakers included David Freel, a professor at The Ohio State University; Eric Lebson, a vice president at the Crumpton Group; Vlad Kapustin from New York Life; and Bill Foale, an investigator from EY.

Globally, corruption accounts for more than 5 percent of the global GDP — more than $2.6 trillion. Most of that corruption occurs in developed countries with approval from senior management. Which leads us to think that the tone at the top and organizational culture need work.

Organizational culture is the shared beliefs or expectations that influence thinking and behavior; it’s the glue that holds the company together. According to Prof. Freel local companies Nationwide, Cardinal Health are best-practice examples of excellent, ethical organizational culture.

And ethics is important to consumers too. The data currently says that consumers are more likely to do business with companies they perceive to be of a high moral fiber.

Since a company’s ethics is a priority to consumers, it could be assumed that strides have been made across industries to clearly define ethical behavior for its employees, provide training, improve whistleblower policies, etc.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Over the last 30 years, there’s virtually been no change in anti-corruption policies. According to Eric Lebson, “It’s difficult to get a company that has never experienced a FCPA incident to take action.”

An FCPA investigation can be crippling. On average, an FCPA investigation lasts 3.7 years, 92.42% of defendants who settle with SEC, and 76.44% of defendants who settle with DOJ.

Bill Foale encouraged executives to empower their audience to make compliance second nature. Many anti-corruption policies are dense and jargony and therefore difficult for even a native English speaker to comprehend. Foale suggests asking the following questions about your anti-corruption policies:

  • Is the material understandable?
  • Is it written in a way that the information is relatable to the audience responsibilities? As in, not just a list of “do nots” and includes examples of practical tips
  • Language? Keep in mind that many of your employees may be native English speakers.
  • Is there a resource available for questions/assistance?

Many ethical challenges like transparency, privacy, self-interest, and data protection lie ahead. But with proper prior preparation, any organization can avoid ethical conflicts.

For more on this topic and many others, visit fisher.osu.edu/risk. Risk Series V continues on November 14 with a conversation on Mergers & Acquisition Risk. M&A is a high stakes game and getting it right matters. Join The Risk Institute and our experts from academia and industry for a lively discussion about the delicate balance of risk and reward in M&A. To register, visit go.osu.edu/marisk.

3 things you need to know to succeed in risk

Panelists from the Women. Fast forward panel at this year's annual conference

Panelists from the Women. Fast forward panel at this year’s annual conference

Disruption and gender diversity are two of the biggest topics facing business leaders today. Both issues are critical to the future of every industry. And they’re closely connected.

The best way to navigate disruption is to harness the power of diverse thinking by enabling people with different experiences, ideas and knowledge to come together in an inclusive culture. Gender diversity is a critical part of the equation. Not only this, gender diverse leadership is proven to increase the skills businesses need to navigate the disruptive trends transforming their industry.

So what does this mean?

If a person, or company, wants to succeed in mitigating risk, they must embrace gender diversity at every level.

In short, everyone benefits from thinking like a woman.

  • “You need to get comfortable being uncomfortable” — Jessica Jung, Director, Oswald Companies

Achieving success isn’t something that just happens to a person. It requires a lot of hard work, tough choices, and generally being willing to put yourself out there— trying something new.

  • Have an entrepreneurial spirit

No matter if you’re the intern grabbing Starbucks for your department or a C-suite executive, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. When approaching any situation, don’t come to the meeting and just point out the risks — offer real solutions.

  • Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

Every panelist punched this point home — communicate with everyone, from your spouse to your organization and boss. By being an open communicator, you project to others that you are confident, open to compromise, and available.

Each year, The Risk Institute at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business hosts an annual conference that brings together thought leaders, industry experts, and academics to engage in a dialogue about the latest trends in risk management. This year the conversation focused around governance, culture, and the vital role women play in the field.

One of the Institute’s founding member’s, EY, cosponsored a panel spring-boarding their Women. Fast forward initiative, which aims to accelerate the achievement of gender parity in business.

The Risk Institute will continue this conversation and others through this year’s Risk Series.