3 Basic Steps to Improving the Effectiveness of Anti-Bribery Training


To say anti-bribery training is important is one huge understatement. It continues to be one of the key elements in any effective or any best practices compliance program. The US Sentencing Guidelines contains clear language: “conducting effective training programs” will be one of the factors the Department of Justice (DOJ) will take into account when a company accused of a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violation is being evaluated for a sentence reduction.

Additionally, the FCPA Guidance from the DOJ and SEC lists training as one of the key elements of the Ten Hallmarks of an Effective Compliance Program. The agencies will evaluate whether a company has taken steps to ensure that relevant anti-bribery policies and procedures have been communicated throughout the organization, including through periodic training and compliance policy certification for all directors, officers, relevant employees agents and business partners. The Guidance suggests that anti-bribery training should cover company policies and procedures, instruction on applicable laws, practical advice to address real-life scenarios and case studies. The Guidance also emphasizes that the training should be presented in such a way that it’s appropriate and effective for the targeted audience.

However specific training is under the FCPA, it is one part of an overall effective training program. As I noted in my recent book “Anti-Bribery Leadership” training is just another form of communication and more importantly, it is only one part of the internal marketing of your compliance program. You should incorporate other awareness vehicles as well, and be sure that your messages convey the appropriate level of urgency to those employees who might be at the highest risk in your organization.

Carol Switzer, President of the Open Compliance and Ethics Group (OCEG), reminded us that “one size does not fit all in deciding the content and intensity of training needs for each role or individual.” Recognizing that it all starts with a risk-based analysis of who needs the training is just the start. Switzer believes that by engaging employees in corporate ethics training, it becomes more effective. I agree.

She looks to the world of gaming when stating that, “Well-designed games encourage engagement, and more engagement means more reinforcement, and that leads to better recollection and application of the information. Situational decision making drives the player to think, not just act. Making wrong choices and seeing the consequences leads to desire to act the right way and gain rewards, be it advancing to the next level of the game, earning a prize for success, or understanding that in the real workplace world the reward may be achievement of personal and organizational objectives.”

Three Generally Recognized Steps in An Effective Anti-Bribery Training Program

  1. Define what you are trying to achieve. Prepare a training goals document that maps do your business objectives, risk assessments and the threats and opportunities you have to manage for your business. Your goals should include helping to ensure the company’s reputation, culture and ethical conduct, and, lastly, show that your training program will comply with relevant anti-bribery training laws and regulations.
  2. Design the training program. Include the types of training you will use, as well as the frequency with which you will train particular groups. After the design of the training program, the next level is to design the specific training courses. At this stage you should establish your learning objectives and map the training to legal and anti-bribery training requirements. You must always remember who your audience is and what their characteristics might be.
  3. Map the plan to the individual employee level. The final design level is the individual’s training plan. Here you need to analyze what the person’s role is within the organization and use this to determine mandatory and risk-based training needs.

But your training should be more than simply reciting a list of what is required under the FCPA and other anti-bribery laws. You should incorporate different types of training to hold the listener’s attention. Here you are only limited by your imagination. You can open with some type of interactive pre-assessment that is designed to determine how much your audience may already know about global bribery and corruption. From there, perhaps you insert a short interactive questionnaire at the conclusion of anti-bribery training section topic. Features like these allow your audience to examine their own expertise before and after their lessons to see what they have learned throughout the training. By making each session interactive, you not only hold the attention of the participants but also garner their participation in the training. Any time increase training participation and interactivity, you go a long way towards improving the effectiveness of your anti-bribery training program. Whatever you do, don’t bore your audience or they won’t remember what you’re teaching them, and it’s essential that they do.

At the end of the day, an effective anti-bribery training program will incorporate all of the learning tools available to reach the widest target audience possible. It’s always important that your individual employees understand “the rules”, but that understanding should be grounded in a culture of ethics and the application of ethical principles. Coupled together, these approaches should embolden employees to make the right decision even if they cannot remember a specific rule governing a specific situation. Truly effective anti-bribery training arms your employees to deal with the “gray areas” that exist in the real world of international business when they are confronted with them.

Topics:  Anti-Bribery, Anti-Corruption, Chief Compliance Officers, Compliance, DOJ, FCPA

Published In: General Business Updates, International Trade Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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