Chief Compliance Officers are usually very proud of their anti-corruption training programs. Most companies rely on a combination of live and on-line training programs to communicate the message of compliance.
The FCPA Guidance was very clear on the subject of training programs. The Justice Department and the SEC took a little bit of time to underscore the importance of making a training program relevant and accessible to the audience.
DOJ and the SEC appear to be concerned about the content of training materials. The government’s concerns about anti-corruption training programs reflect issues they have identified in reviewing company training materials. Many training programs include lengthy legal discussions which are sure to bore any audience (including lawyers). As set out in the FCPA Guidance, the government wants businesses to push their training programs to the next level (from its perspective).
The question of live versus on-line training boils down to resources. Many companies do not have the resources for compliance and legal staff to travel to all the company offices to conduct training programs. This reflects a limited view of who should be conducting compliance training. Why can’t business people conduct training? Why should this be limited only to compliance and legal staff?
A company that wants to expand its training opportunities should use a variety of trainers to conduct training. Having business staff conduct training sends an important message – compliance is not just a legal or compliance staff issue, it is a business issue was well. To implement this strategy, compliance and legal staff should work together to training business trainers to maximize the number of live training programs.
The FCPA Guidance urged companies to make training materials relevant to the audience. For example, the training content for senior executives should be different from the content for sales staff that has direct interactions with foreign officials. That is just good common sense.
In addition, the FCPA Guidance highlighted the importance of including case studies and specific scenarios for training purposes. For a sales staff meeting, the scenarios should be designed to reflect real life situations which may arise. Case studies can be crafted to reflect real-life situations.
This same content requirement should be addressed in training materials for senior executives, accounting or procurement staff. A risk assessment can help identify issues of concern for each of these divisions. Training materials have to reflect these risks and the content needs to be drafted with reference to these specific risks.
Training materials also have to accessible to employees and third parties. Most companies recognize the importance of offering training in foreign languages and have translated their materials to the relevant language in each office. To the extent that local customs and terminology are relevant to compliance purposes, training materials should incorporate local customs and terms in case studies and hypothetical scenarios. Legal discussions should be made simple to ensure that foreign audiences which are not necessarily familiar with the intricacies of United States legal systems and institutions.
The bottom line for improving your training program is to try to think outside the box – look for additional resources, design your materials to make sure they are relevant and accessible to the audience, and draft training presentations to reflect relevant risk assessments.