Pandemic Boosts Risks, Puts E&C Under Pressure

October 20, 2020
LRN Corporation

Companies are seeing new and heightened compliance risks caused by the coronavirus, but some compliance programs may be losing a step, according to a survey of compliance professionals by The Wall Street Journal.

Ninety percent of compliance professionals say their company has experienced new risks, or that existing risks have been aggravated by the pandemic; nearly half say their company has been hit by both. About 25% say their compliance programs are less effective due to the coronavirus, according to the survey.

Among the new risks and challenges for compliance officers caused by the pandemic, according to another WSJ article:

    • Remote workforce: Working from home has made it difficult for compliance officers to keep an eye on company operations and monitor employees. According to the survey of compliance professionals, cybersecurity is a top concern; about one-third say they’ve seen a substantial increase in its risk factor. 
    • Changes to operations, supply chains: As many companies have been forced to make major operations and supply chain changes, new business partners and suppliers are often a necessity. Part of a compliance officer’s duty is to conduct due diligence on third parties to ensure they won’t put the company in legal jeopardy.
    • Budget cuts: With revenue down at many companies, cost-cutting has affected compliance. Smaller compliance teams, and employees facing additional workloads and pressures, have caused the risk of corruption and fraud to rise.
    • Return to the office: As some companies begin to send employees back to the office, concerns over both privacy and employment laws are growing. Daily temperature checks, contact tracing, and employee disclosure of medical and other personal information mean companies need to balance a safe workplace with privacy and regulatory issues.

Many companies are looking to technology to boost their compliance programs and make them more resilient in the long term, according to WSJ. In fact, more than 75% of compliance professionals say they rely more on data and advanced tools to help them streamline workflows and flag new risks. About one-third expect an increase in resources next year.

What’s certain is the pandemic has laid bare the importance of a strong, durable compliance program. For now, WSJ says the trick is for compliance officers “to maintain a presence within the organization from afar–at a time when a return to normalcy is difficult to predict.”

About the Author

LRN Corporation

Ethics and compliance leader providing tools, education, and advisory services for global companies to inspire principled performance.

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