Anti-corruption training is a vital component of any company’s legal and compliance efforts, but ensuring that such training stays relevant, upto-date and effective can sometimes be a challenge. Ranajit Dam speaks to in-house lawyers about best practices they follow

As bribery and corruption fall increasingly until the scrutiny of governments and agencies around the world through legislation like the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), The United Kingdom Bribery Act (UKBA) and even local laws, companies are finding that they need to put strong systems in place to ensure they don’t fall afoul of the authorities. An important part of this is training employees on company regulations and codes, effectively making them aware of what’s right, what’s wrong, and what kind of behaviour is expected from them.

To this end, companies employ a variety of methods, including e-learning, lectures and interactive workshops. Of the three, however, it is the latter that in-house counsel find to be the most effective. “I strongly feel that in-person training works the best,” says Eric R. Finkelman, executive director and general counsel, APAC, for Avon. “That way you can look into people’s eyes when you train them, you can engage, you can ask questions and you can relate individually.”

However, it is important that the workshops are topical and are as close as possible to real-life scenarios. “We shouldn’t be plucking scenarios from the air; these should be collected from the field,” says Yeoh Mun Shern, legal counsel and compliance advisor at Hitachi Asia. “As they are taken from real-life experiences or events, these relate to things that actually matter to the group.”

Finkelman agrees. “Well-designed training should begin with hypothetical case studies that can reflect actual experiences,” he says. “We divide the course attendees into breakout groups and ask them to discuss the case studies and to present their own ideas as to correct responses to these situations, and then we cover the broader subjects during training and refer back to the hypotheticals and how they should properly be addressed. People seem to enjoy that a lot, they get very animated when they discuss the case studies in their groups, and this seems to put the formal presentation which follows into context.”

He also finds it particularly effective to use real-life examples. “It’s one thing to talk about corruption in the abstract,” says Finkelman. “It’s something else when I talk about a textile factory in Bangladesh that burnt down with all the doors locked, or the school in China that collapsed because it was made of substandard concrete and the inspectors were paid off. These are actual examples of how corruption costs thousands of lives; or which costs society a great deal of money, or both, and these are things to which people can relate.”

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One of the major challenges that large corporations face is ensuring that the training is undertaken by each employee.

Hitachi Asia is looking at empowering general managers to ensure that training is pervasive across the company. “We plan to provide GMs with the materials, and then we’ll ask them to come up with the messages they want to send to their teams,” says Yeoh. “We’ll also provide them with a few scenarios and ask them to choose which ones are the most relevant for their teams.”

Avon is currently under an FCPA monitorship, and while the monitor has recognized that Avon “has designed and maintained a very well-functioning compliance program,” he has made recommendations for additional improvements, including that Avon provide in-person training to train a broader employee poplulation and to do so even more frequently in some markets. While Finkelman admits this can be difficult, as there may be the need to chase some people down to complete all required training, the company has found a way to ensure completion by assigning consequences to missing the training. “Every person in Avon has a compliance objective as part of their performance goals, which requires them to complete all their compliance training in a timely fashion,” he says. “If they don’t complete it in a timely fashion, then they haven’t fully met their objectives, and they will not be entitled to their full bonus. This is an approach that is supported by the monitor. So we can now say: ‘Look there’s no choice, you have to complete this training.’”

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