Tech Hosts Ethics and Compliance Roundtable
Last week Georgia Tech hosted a thought leadership and engagement event for more than 30 ethics and compliance professionals. This roundtable was held in conjunction with the Ethisphere Institute’s Business Ethics Leadership Alliance, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices. Attendees represented a variety of industries including telecommunications, manufacturing, financial services, consumer goods, and education.
Lynn Durham, Tech’s associate vice president and chief of staff, opened the event by highlighting Georgia Tech’s ethical culture.
“We know that we’re not just educating students in the classroom,” Durham said. “Our faculty and our staff are working with our students every day, and hopefully, are preparing them to be the professionals that they should be. Ethics and compliance is part of that, and it should be what we’re demonstrating to them on a daily basis. So, we need to walk the walk and show our students that we have an ethical culture here at Georgia Tech.”
Durham said she has seen firsthand how strong leadership can influence the rest of the campus in decision-making, and that culture starts at the top.
“President Peterson has been very strong in building this culture,” Durham said. “This year, under his leadership, we developed and published our core values for the Institute. In developing the values that will shape our culture and workforce for years to come, we took a lot of effort to evaluate the values that will resonate with our community and align with who we are at Georgia Tech.”
Ling-Ling Nie, Tech’s general counsel and vice president for Ethics and Compliance, led a discussion on “Adapting to the Compliance Function in a New Industry.” She talked about the challenges of moving from the private sector to a public institution, and the importance of balancing transparency and risk management.
Nie said that Tech leadership has supported her in this new role, and she observed that Tech employees are committed to doing things the right way.
“After any organization has experienced a crisis, there is anxiety and fear about making decisions because employees don’t want to get in trouble, and so it’s important to provide strong leadership and to clarify expectations,” she said.
During Nie’s session, roundtable participants shared their insights into making a smooth transition to different industries and to different companies within the same industry — most importantly, learning the regulatory landscape and identifying key risks facing the organization.
Although the roundtable participants were primarily legal professionals, the day's takeaways could be applied to any professional in a new environment.
Other advice included:
- Engage outside counsel to get up to speed on any applicable laws and regulations in your new industry.
- Before launching into an action plan, embark on a listening tour to better understand the practices and risk tolerance in a new industry or a newly acquired entity. Try to build momentum through consensus.
- Learn the roles within the organization, build relationships, and partner with other functional areas to achieve specific goals.
The session ended with a lively discussion of effective engagement activities in the area of training. Participants gave examples of successful training programs that incorporated games based on popular television shows such as Dancing with the Stars and Jeopardy!
Best practice: A singular approach will not work for every audience, so plan engagement and outreach accordingly. Tailor training and communications to each audience and the risks they face.
Nie and her staff will use what they learned and shared during these sessions as they continue to lead the efforts to enhance and support Georgia Tech’s ethical culture.