Cover of Guide for Building and Sustaining an Effective Champion Program. Below, a network swirls around the globe.

The full Guide is available to members of the Business Ethics Leadership Alliance on the BELA Member Hub.

Champion programs are a proven way to broaden the reach of ethics and compliance programs and embed compliance into the culture. Also, known as liaisons or ambassadors, champions are a cost-effective way to cascade training and communications throughout your company. These programs place ethics and compliance champions within the business functions or geographic locations to drive the messaging around specific compliance topics and in many cases act as a point a contact for employee questions about where to find resources related to policies or how to use channels for reporting concerns.

With the convergence of data privacy and compliance responsibility becoming more common, the Business Ethics Leadership Alliance (BELA) created a working group to examine best practices for handling governance, structure, and workflows. The group had a specific focus on practical ways to communicate requirements and expectations across a global organization. With data privacy risks occupying a prominent position on the list of compliance concerns, the group agreed that compliance champions could play a key role in integrating the knowledge and behaviors that support good data privacy management throughout an organization.

To that end, the working group has created the Guide for Building and Sustaining an Effective Champion Program, available exclusively for the BELA community. This Guide provides a step-by-step framework for creating any type of Champion Program, from data privacy to anti- corruption to information governance to ESG. The Guide includes:

  • A four-phase Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle for developing and implementing a sustainable Champion Program
  • Checklists and guidelines for selecting, training, and evaluating champions
  • Templates and resources for training and communication about the program
  • Key tips and callouts for topical considerations: Data Privacy, Anti-Corruption, ESG, and Information Governance

In recognition of the timing of the guide publication coinciding with the workplace adjustments in response to the coronavirus pandemic, there are also sections on special considerations for remote workers.

A few excerpts from the Guide are included here to give you an idea of the level of guidance and detail provided. This first excerpt, Criteria for Selecting Champions, is part of the Plan stage of developing a Champion Program. The next excerpt, Selected Tips for Success, is a sample of the many tips that are found throughout the Guide across all four stages of Plan-Do-Check-Act.

Criteria for Selecting Champions

Here are some guidelines for selecting an effective Champion. Some companies decide to identify possible candidates and then see if they want to become a Champion. Some companies go through an open application process and let people apply to be Champions. There is no “right” way. What is best for your company may be based on the scope of your Champion Program and the number of potentially qualified candidates.

Regardless of whether you choose “selection” or “application,” you need to establish criteria. Here’s a list to get you thinking.

  • Able to effectively communicate and influence behavior – most important attribute
  • Familiar with the issue’s subject matter – deep expertise not needed
  • Familiar with local culture and issues
  • Understand related legal issues – but does not need to be a lawyer
  • Able to understand and bridge the operating needs of the company with compliance requirements
  • Practical problem solver
  • Empathy for people trying to do their job and meet compliance expectations

When establishing a Compliance Champion network, it should be representative of your company’s operations—functionally, geographically, and with a particular focus on areas where risk may be higher based on responsibilities or where resources are often needed to support implementation   of various initiatives. Generally, Senior Vice Presidents and above should assist in overseeing the related program from a governance perspective as “Senior Leaders” but would not be leveraged as Champions.

Selected Tips for Success

  • Be specific about the compliance issue(s) and how the Champion Program will support your company’s mission and code of conduct
  • It may make sense to start with a pilot program in certain high-risk departments or locations and then scale the Champion Program
  • Build momentum during the planning stage by getting cross-functional input. As you scope the initial roll-out, target departments and locations that will be receptive
  • Make sure to feature Senior Management support from headquarters in your announcement
  • Provide the Champions with the communication materials they will use so there is a consistent message

About the Author:

Craig Moss has worked with companies of all sizes around the world on how to improve compliance and risk management performance. At Ethisphere, Craig is responsible for developing and delivering the “Measure and Improve” program designed to help companies and their supply chain mature their programs for cybersecurity, data protection and anti-corruption. Craig has worked extensively with companies in India, China and Asia over the past 25+ years.