Compliance should be part of the culture of a business, staff at all levels of an organisation should be educated and those who do not comply should be disciplined
Clients must ensure that ethics are integrated into all their business processes rather than just producing codes of conduct “on paper”, according to Broseta partner Luis Rodríguez Soler.
He adds that it is also important that staff who do not act ethically are disciplined. “Clients should assume an ethical culture that is perceived,” says Rodríguez Soler. “It’s not only good intentions on the website, or codes of conduct that are just paper – ethics must be integrated into all business processes.”
In order to ensure this, clients must have a workable plan against which progress can be measured, says Rodríguez Soler. “There should be a culture of compliance, education at all levels and a clear disciplinary regime,” he explains. “Businesses should be hard on those who do not comply with this, from top management to the last employee – it should involve planning, action, adjustment and feedback.”
Rodríguez Soler says compliance is currently a highly profitable area of business for his firm. However, he adds that, to be effective, lawyers must develop compliance programmes in partnership with consultants with expertise in business risk to ensure that the programmes work in practice.
Some aspects of compliance are becoming commoditised, but not all, says Rodríguez Soler. He adds that, while some aspects of compliance “can become industrialised”, other aspects are highly dependent on the nature of the business in which a client is operating and even then a compliance programme may need to be tailored for the needs of an individual company. “Each company is a different world,” he says.
Companies in all sectors are in danger of suffering damage if they are not compliant, Rodríguez Soler warns. He says: “Reputational risk has hit the boards of all companies regardless of their size and activity.”