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Inside BELA’s Year of Breathtaking Growth, and Proof That Integrity Matters

The Business Ethics Leadership Alliance had a banner year in terms of growth, engagement, and helping its members build better foundations of integrity within their own organizations.

In December, the BELA team had an enlightening team experience…a virtual mediation with a Japanese Buddhist monk. He imparted plenty of wisdom on us, including that humans take an average of 20,000 breaths per day. A remarkable number, and one we should not take for granted in a world that has been moving at a breakneck pace through a crowd of obstacles and opportunities.

As my colleagues and I reflect on this year, and seek new energy in the year ahead, we take this moment to catch our breath. 2021 was breathtaking and bold when we consider the milestones that BELA achieved through record growth. It is with enthusiasm and admiration for this BELA community that we share these 2021 highlights.

Community in Bloom

Although the BELA community has grown each year, 2021 was a record year for growth. We crossed the threshold of 350 BELA members for the very first time. A re-commitment to programmatic changes delayed by the pandemic, the need for better cultural awareness, and the reliance on new standards and a trusted peer group, have each served as accelerants.

We are grateful to each BELA member, both long standing and new, for your exceptional trust in our people, the resources, and your peers as you continue to measure and improve.

Ethical Culture at a Premium

BELA member organizations have a higher set of goals and exceptional ambition when it comes to the establishment of a best-in-class program. Our Ethical Culture Perceptions Assessment has enabled BELA members to push data and insights further to better understand the employee experience.

No one executes as a partner in this endeavor better than our Data & Service team. They have had stories to share and guidance to offer BELA members every month. But if you are not yet acquainted, here is our Ethical Culture Masterclass Series I recommend as an introduction.

Addition and Partnership

We are delighted to announce that in December, informed360 became part of Ethisphere. The platform and its workflows, analytics capabilities, and action plans is an exciting addition to a growing set of Ethisphere solutions. Co-Founder Brian Beeghly was a long-time collaborator with BELA when he led compliance at Johnson Controls. Co-Founder Andrew Neblett has led GRC solutions and integrations for over 25 years and also previously served as President for American Lawyer Media. We are excited to officially call them colleagues and further details on the combination will be announced in early January. There are specific features of the informed360 platform that we expect to have early impact to elevated levels of BELA membership to turn insights into action.

Meanwhile, Ethisphere’s partnership with Lexterity is now more than a year in the making, and Lexterity Founder and CEO Parth Chanda and his team have helped lead a Data Analytics Masterclass Series, participated in numerous BELA events, and co-chaired the very first Data Analytics Working Group. Our partnership with Lextegrity continues into 2022 and 2023 and we have just launched a new Compliance Digital Transformation Maturity Diagnostic. This is free to BELA members and focuses on the top risk areas, including: conflicts of interest, third-party due diligence, gifts and hospitality, sponsorships, donations, and political contributions.

A Summit That Surprised and Thrived

This year was a rapid immersion into a full studio production and virtual experience. As exciting as it is to say that we had our largest Global Ethics Summit event in history, with over 1,500 registrants, it is really what that number represents. A virtual model made it possible for more of our BELA members to participate, which transformed the Summit into a team experience instead of an individual one. With so many conversation options, teams got the most value through “dividing and conquering.”

Among the main stage highlights were: keynote social justice conversation with AARP, AT&T, and VF Corporation; CEOs weighing in on new strategies for long- term value with Flex and Premier; pharma leaders from Pfizer and Regeneron on values, transparency, and public trust; and so many more.

All recorded content can be found on the BELA Member Hub here.

New in ’22!

Global Ethics Summit returns in 2022 again in a virtual format, April 12-14. The website just launched and registration is open. You will be hearing plenty more about it in January, but a few quick items:

  • Day 1 (April 12) will be exclusive to BELA, as a day of recognition, guest speakers, and new opportunities revealed
  • Days 2-3 (April 13-14) will serve as plenary sessions, breakouts, workshops, company spotlights, and more
  • 5 complimentary passes for BELA members (10 for Pinnacle members) just like in 2021
  • New BELA Enterprise Pass for those seeking unlimited access for their organization, a brainstorming session with an Ethisphere expert, and more

BELA Virtual Assemblies

The inaugural and successful ESG Forum was held in partnership with Parsons Corporation and we have confirmed another ESG Forum for fall of 2022 in partnership with Parsons. A first time virtual Asia Pacific E&C Forum was held in partnership with our BELA APAC Chapter and William E. Connor/Omega Compliance.

We transformed the experience for BELA South Asia for the second straight year for the 4th Annual South Asia Ethics Summit, combining all sessions into one week. And somehow we still had the privilege of hosting a Europe Ethics & Compliance Forum as our base in those markets continues to grow.

Combine that with more than 40 bespoke roundtables, including an executive series that featured the DOJ, and this was key to keep anywhere from a dozen to hundreds of members connected at marquee moments throughout the year.

BELA Working Groups

Among the eight BELA Working Groups that were in motion, the five listed below were newly formed in 2021 to meet emerging needs and concentrations for the community. Highlighted below are representative resources we published in partnership with select working groups:

For 2022, we have plans for three new Working Groups focusing on: Compliance Training Effectiveness; C&E Data Analytics (intended for data scientists/ analysts that directly support the compliance function); and ESG Reporting and Disclosure. With more to come as we enter only our third full year of BELA Working Group opportunities.

Ramp Up on Resources

Speaking of working groups, the Compliance and Data Privacy Working Group is well represented in the Top 5 resources of 2021, based on most viewed pages on the BELA Member Hub. One of our earliest Working Groups, the participants met regularly for nearly a year to help develop both the Champion Guide and Data Privacy Essentials Guide. The featured Top 5, in order, are:

BELA Member Hub usage is up nearly 20% YOY, attributed in part to the community growth number, but also an increased frequency with which we are adding more resources. If additional members of your team require access to the BELA Member Hub, if you would like to contribute to the member resources, or if you are simply seeking recommendations in particular area of work, reach out directly to your Engagement Director.

The renowned author and speaker Simon Sinek recently shared on Twitter that “A community is a group of people who agree to grow together.” How apropos. There is a richness of expertise across this community and a generosity of time and collaboration that we consider to be unmatched at a multi-disciplinary level. There is even the occasional breathing tip.

I hope you and you families could find some inner peace this holiday season. May the New Year greet you with an abundance of opportunity, progress, and success. We all deserve a win, and if BELA can help you achieve it, let’s make those plans together in 2022.

About the Author

Kevin McCormack is EVP & Executive Director of the Business Ethics Leadership Alliance at Ethisphere.

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