The most experienced ethics and compliance professionals understand that gaining executive support and securing proper leadership oversight are critical to building effective ethics and compliance initiatives. We recently created a customizable E&C KPI presentation template to help you present your program status, goals, and accomplishments with confidence—and gain executive buy-in. Here are five additional best practice strategies for using the often-limited time you have to truly engage your executives in your efforts and priorities.
1) Solidify your strategy
What are the key (3-5) things you want to accomplish in this meeting? Identifying the critical information you need to get across is key to having a high-value engagement with your executive team. Consider points such as:
- Are you seeking to raise awareness of emerging risk areas?
- Do you need to diplomatically address non-cooperation or non-compliance?
- Do you need to set the stage for future developments?
- Do you need to establish more support and engagement from leaders in building an ethical culture?
2) Set expectations early and often
You want to walk into your meeting knowing your audience had enough time to consider and understand your presentation. Consider an advance email that highlights your key points, outlines the purpose, and teases trends you will discuss. A key piece of maintaining control of the presentation is to let your audience know what is coming and understand the “so what(s)” early.
3) Discuss needs and risks in context of the business
Culture and ethics shouldn’t be viewed as an “added ingredient”—merely an operational program or initiative. Instead, it should be “baked into” business strategy. That’s according to LRN’s Activating Culture and Ethics from the Boardroom, with insights from interviews of 40 directors occupying 80 seats on public company boards. A well-positioned leadership team is one that views the health, sustainability, and ethical foundations of its culture as a strategic priority.
Business risks can become a gateway to discuss how ethics and compliance link to meaningful business outcomes. For instance, company leaders stepped up to the COVID-19 challenge last year, according to The 2021 Ethics & Compliance Program Effectiveness Report: Meeting the COVID-19 Challenge, by making decisions consistent with company’s purpose and values, which is the basis of ethical decision making. Successful strategies to engage leadership and the workforce in prioritizing ethical decision making during the crisis are expected to continue as we continue to adapt to and emerge from the pandemic.
4) Establish and communicate the impact of your efforts with meaningful measures and metrics
Does your leadership have a sense of what effective E&C looks like? The leading practices? How a strong program allows you to not just protect against risk and safeguard reputation but enhanced stakeholder engagement and loyalty? Your presentation should clearly cover the meaning behind your program measurements and outline your accomplishments and impact in key areas. If your stakeholders understand how you measure impact, you can help make connections to program outcomes and business risks and performance, and gain the help and support you need in the process.
5) Engage by being engaging yourself
This is your opportunity to present, in a compelling fashion, the “story” of the program you are creating. Storytelling requires giving a sense of both where the compliance program has been but also where it is going. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to raise challenges and concerns and being clear where you need executive support and assistance.
Consider visually engaging dashboards of activity, polishing those one-liners, and providing plenty of time for discussion and questions. If you aren’t getting questions, go ahead and prompt the discussion, by telling them “The hard question for me on this subject is ____.” Or “I’m sure you must be wondering ______.” Make sure any questions that you are posing are focused on dialogue and making positive improvements for the program and business.
The key takeaway
Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” We prepared a draft presentation to give you a head start, using our nearly 30 years of experience in ethics and compliance best practice.