3 key takeaways from the 2023 SCCE Compliance & Ethics Institute

The 22nd Annual Compliance & Ethics Institute from SCCE explored a wide range of pressing issues, from data privacy and ESG to culture change and board engagement. What stood out to ethics and compliance leaders this year, and what do they anticipate next? Last week, LRN’s Vice President of Advisory Services, Emily Miner, explored these questions with a distinguished panel of E&C experts—including:

  • Adam Balfour—Vice President and General Counsel for Corporate Compliance and Latin America at Bridgestone Americas 
  • Felipe Maldonado Garcia—Director of Compliance Programs at Salesforce 
  • Krista Muszak—Sr. Manager, Regional Process & Optimization at Pfizer 

Their webinar discussion (which you can watch here) covered effective strategies for creating engaging and memorable compliance training programs that are accessible for all employees. Panelists also provided practical advice on incorporating emerging trends and subjects—such as DEI, ESG, and AI—into compliance program strategies to ensure programs continue to evolve and adapt in a rapidly changing business environment. Here are three key takeaways they shared from the 2023 conference.

Promoting inclusive compliance programs is an integral part of DEI efforts 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (or DEI) was a new SCCE CEI track this year, and many of its sessions attracted new and past conference attendees. Maldonado Garcia was especially drawn to the sessions that covered neurodiversity and how compliance programs can better include neurodivergent employees. “I think it’s a super relevant and new area that needs to be explored,” he said. “I'm glad to see that being well covered in the conference.”


Musak agreed that DEI efforts present an opportunity for ethics and compliance professionals to lead by example. “As a compliance team, we often expect tone from the top, but the thing is we can't exclude ourselves and our responsibility as stewards of our colleagues at our company. Being able to tap into and make our program and our messaging accessible to all of our colleagues... I think that's an onus on everyone. But I think, too, that we can lead by example.”

“A compliance program is about people,” Maldonado Garcia said. “Some people say that it’s about the law—it’s also about the law, but it's not primarily about the law. It’s about people. People are the key thing and people are different.”

Moving from “training and communication” to “learning and engagement” 

A theme covered during Balfour’s SCCE session and other sessions was the idea of moving away from “training and communication” in E&C programs and focusing more on “learning and engagement.” Balfour explained that this shift, though subtle, makes a difference in program structure and delivery. “When we focus on training and communication, it’s really ‘What is our intent in compliance? Did we give the training? Did we send the communication?’ A lot of the things that I heard from the different sessions was we're moving away from that to really think about who are the people that we're trying to influence, what did they learn, and were they engaged?” (Balfour shares more details on this topic on LRN’s Principled Podcast.) 


Musak also spoke about the value of making compliance training engaging and memorable. However, she noted that it’s important to not lose sight of the substance of the training material. “There is a fine line between fun and silly, and we don't want anybody to get the wrong impression about the importance that we’re trying to convey.” Ultimately, said Musak, striking the right balance is key.

The US Department of Justice is ramping up hiring and regulatory priorities 

Perhaps the most anticipated session of the conference was the keynote address by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, leader of the US Department of Justice. (You can listen to it in full on SCCE’s Compliance Perspectives podcast.) Balfour’s biggest takeaway was that the DOJ continues to be in hiring mode. “[Monaco] mentioned at one point that [the DOJ is] increasing by 40% the number of prosecutors in the Criminal Division's bank integrity unit,” he said. “She also gave a speech on October of 2021 where she said that the DOJ has over 115,000 employees across 12 or so countries, with the operating budget equivalent to that of a Fortune 100 company. She's not just sharing that information as an interesting fact. I think she's really communicating that the DOJ is very well resourced.” 


Maldonado Garcia noted that the news around the DOJ’s hiring is worth sharing as a proof point for investing in compliance. “Use that internally on your companies to raise awareness that we need to up our game and think critically about where we are and where we need to be,” he said. “As compliance practitioners, it's important that we understand that we are going to be under more scrutiny, perhaps. So, we need to be able to execute better and prove that we executed better.”

Musak agreed and also found that Monaco’s messaging struck a tone that was more supportive than aggressive towards compliance teams. “I found most of her comments to be collaborative,” she concluded. “I’d listen to her say, ‘We're going to hire more people’ and then give current real-life examples. But the additional piece of what I was hearing was, ‘We are here to help you’ through not only the arm of justice, but also in a ‘Let's combine forces’ type of way. The DOJ doesn't want people to break the laws, and we don't want people to break the laws.”  

The key takeaway 

Overall, Balfour, Maldonado Garcia, and Musak found this year’s conference to be packed with valuable information and are eager to see what will be addressed when SCCE prepares its 23rd Annual Compliance & Ethics Institute. To hear their full thoughts on the conference, click here to watch a recording of the LRN webinar “After SCCE CEI 2023: What we learned, and what’s next.”