The most common discussions we have with those teams are centered around helping them frame their compliance program. We’ve distilled this advice into a free white paper titled The 7 Deadly Sins of a Compliance Program. The whitepaper is focused on small and mid-size businesses who are attempting to build their first program or improve their current one but also has some additional thoughts that a leader in any size company can benefit from.
Today’s focus is on the purpose of an investigation into any alleged concern. Some may say the purpose is to uncover the truth, and that’s true, but what’s the process or business focus? Really very simple: Did the behavior alleged rise to be a violation of a published policy? Although the question is direct and succinct on the surface, there’s a lot to unpack there. Let’s start with these five considerations:
First, is there a published policy that specifically covers the alleged behavior? More specifically, what was the policy in place when the alleged incident actually occurred?
Second, does that policy clearly define standards that the investigator can refer to when conducting a fair and unbiased investigation?
Third, are there clearly defined conclusions if the employee violated the policy?
Fourth, has the employee read and attested to understanding and agreeing to abide by the policy?
Finally, is there anything in the policy that conflicts with local, state, or federal law?
I was caught this week by a news story (and I will stay out of the politics involved) where the chairwoman of the House Administration Committee requested information as part of an ongoing investigation. Interestingly, she specifically asked, “With regard to any codified strategic plan, policy directives, and/or any standard operating procedures for officers to be detailed to field offices, were those followed by the Department and personnel with respect to the incident? If not, why not?”
She didn’t ask if the incident was legal or illegal, good or bad, just or unjust, she asked very directly if there was a policy in place or procedure in place to govern the investigation guidelines and if it was followed. If not, why not?
After all, at the end of the day policies should be well thought out, clear, and available if you expect people to follow them.