The Network’s new web-based code is establishing itself as the industry standard to help companies engage employees, cultivate ethical cultures, and create better workplaces.
By Nicole Thomas
In keeping with our CEO theme this quarter, Ethisphere caught up with Luis Ramos, CEO of The Network, to discuss the company’s new Agile Code of Conduct, an innovative web-based Code experience that companies are really excited about. Nicole Thomas, Editor-in-Chief, had these questions for Luis about the company, which has produced some of the most high-profile and well-known Codes of Conduct over the past 20 years and has won several awards for their Code work along the way.
NT: Tell us about your new Agile Code of Conduct. What was the vision behind it and what sets it apart from competitive offerings?
LR: Our focus has always been to help companies engage their employees so they connect with ethics and compliance. We envision the Agile Code becoming the cornerstone of the compliance program—for employees, because they can access not only Code content, but policies, FAQs, and activities like quizzes and decision trees, and navigate it in whatever way they find most effective. And for the compliance team, because it’s a compliance marketing platform that lets them drive employees to new, fresh content.
The Agile Code provides analytics so that compliance managers can see which parts of the Code employees are viewing, which terms they are searching on, and so forth, so they have insight into where issues may be. The Agile Code is the only truly interactive Code of Conduct in the market. Everything else is in a static, fixed format. We believe that to engage employees, companies must focus on marketing their ethics and compliance programs, and the Agile Code lets them do just that. It is truly an evolution of the Code.
NT: Why do you feel this is a timely product for today’s market?
LR: The workforce is undergoing a massive transformation. Today’s employees expect interactive experiences. They’re not satisfied with Codes that are documents, just as they’re not satisfied with training manuals. By not leveraging tools like the Agile Code or interactive ethics and compliance training, companies are missing opportunities to engage and connect with their employees.
NT: Corporate culture is a key priority for leaders. How does the new Agile Code help organizations bring their corporate culture into alignment with stated values?
LR: Our company purpose is to “Create Better Workplaces,” so culture is very important to us. All of our solutions are designed to help companies cultivate ethical cultures and create better workplaces. The Agile Code allows compliance teams to market their companies’ ethics, standards, and values in order to keep culture top of mind for their employees.
NT: Explain the difference between a Code of Conduct as an experience versus as a written document from an employee’s standpoint.
LR: Experiences are interactive and immersive; they’re multi-dimensional rather than flat. Employees benefit when Codes offer more than just principles—for instance, FAQs and scenarios that offer additional guidance. But guidance creates length, so companies often try to shorten PDF Codes, worried that employees won’t read them. That’s not a concern with an Agile Code, because think about it: when is the last time you heard someone say, ‘that website is too long?’ So employees can get the information they need to do their jobs more effectively and get it in an interactive, engaging way, which is a better experience and helps them live out the values of the organization.
NT: In terms of information accessibility, how does the Agile Code represent an improvement?
LR: The Agile Code makes Code information much more useful and much more accessible. Employees can access it via any device since it leverages a responsive design and is optimized for any form factor. Because employees can find information in a variety of ways, such as searching, using navigation, browsing around—like how they use websites—they’re not restricted to searching linearly as they are with documents. The power of improving access to information is the ability to improve employee comprehension, because for any topic, employees can go from understanding the Code principle to accessing the relevant policies and ultimately engaging in the training.
NT: Where do you feel most businesses fall short in terms of their compliance efforts?
LR: In our experience, most businesses fall short in engaging their employees. They have lots of activities and tactics, but no cohesive program intended to drive or change behavior. The goal of most compliance programs is awareness, but it should not be about ensuring employees know something, but rather that they do something. I like the analogy: ‘I know how to kick a field goal, I just can’t do it.’ It’s a critical nuance that is missing in many ethics and compliance programs.
NT: From your extensive experience in the industry, what compliance best practices can you recommend to those just beginning to develop their policies and programs?
LR: It‘s about the culture, and that starts with the Code. Companies must begin with a Code that clearly explains their ethics, values, and the kind of culture they want to create. They must make that Code understandable and accessible for their employees so they can grasp what the company is trying to achieve and perform to the highest standards.
NT: What trends are you seeing form in the industry and how does The Network address them?
LR: The decline of the Baby Boomer generation and the rise of the Millennials; they are entering the workforce in droves and changing everything about business. Our mission around employee engagement is well aligned with millennials because our solutions are engaging, intuitive, and have social media components. The Agile Code and our Integrated GRC Suite are perfect examples of how we’re addressing this market.
NT: What do you foresee in terms of growth for The Network? Are there particular regions or market segments that present exceptional opportunities?
LR: First, I must say I’m so proud of our team. We’ve experienced tremendous growth because of the hard work and creativity of our exceptional people. I see additional growth opportunities in a few places. One growth driver is our focus on continuing to eliminate information silos for ethics and compliance officers and giving them a holistic view of compliance opportunities and risks. That’s the principle focus of our Integrated GRC Suite and the Agile Code.
Another growth area is international markets. Areas like the EU, Latin America, and Asia are seeing their regulatory environments become similar to the US. Moreover, many governments who are struggling to balance budgets are using regulatory and fine-imposing powers to raise money, which has ethics and compliance professionals seeking help. These trends—complex regulatory environments, aggressive regulators, and fragmented data—show no signs of abating, and continue to provide tremendous growth potential for The Network.
Who is The Network? We build solutions that prevent, detect, and remediate misconduct to help companies maintain ethical cultures. Our industry-first Integrated GRC Suite, whistleblower hotline, Code of Conduct, and full library of ethics and compliance training courses help more than 4,500 customers, including half of the Fortune 500, identify and mitigate risks every day. For more information, visit www.tnwinc.com and follow our industry-leading Twitter feed at @TheNetworkInc.
Luis Ramos has been the CEO of The Network since 2009 and has guided the company’s transformation into a leading governance, risk and compliance solutions provider. He has more than 20 years of experience in risk management and compliance and can be reached at [email protected].
This article was featured in the Q3 2015 issue of Ethisphere Magazine. To subscribe and learn more about Ethisphere Magazine click here.