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Ethics and Compliance Trends for 2020: 5 Things You Need to Do This Year

2020’s ethics and compliance trends focus on prevention.

Posted by Ann Snook on April 13th, 2020

An alarming 47 per cent of employees say that they’ve personally observed a violation of a law or organizational standards while at work. 2020 is the year to focus on preventing ethics and compliance lapses, rather than dealing with the consequences when one occurs.

With an increasing number of new laws and changing regulations, compliance teams are busier than ever. However, putting the work into prevention now will save your company money down the road by preventing fines and lost business. Follow these five ethics and compliance trends to optimize your E&C program this year.


An ethics or compliance lapse can damage your organization's finances and reputation.

Case management software can help you track and manage ethics & compliance investigations and report on results for effective risk management and prevention, all in one tool. Learn how in our free eBook.

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Up Your GDPR Compliance


Nearly two years have passed since the GDPR took effect, protecting the privacy of EU individuals online. As the law moves out of its infancy, regulators will likely crack down harder on non-compliance.

“There were more fines in the fourth quarter of 2019 than any quarter before,” says Donovan Buck, VP of software engineering at BrandExtract. “I expect that to continue to be the case.”

Up until this point, most of the companies that have been charged for non-compliance with GDPR have been large organizations receiving large fines. However, businesses of every size should now ensure they’re compliant with all parts of the law.

Protecting privacy isn’t just for big companies that can be made a spectacle of. “Authorities in EU member states haven’t hesitated to issue significant fines to smaller organizations, sometimes for seemingly minor infractions,” notes Jenny O’Brien, Business Content Manager at Auth0. As a result, having a robust approach to GDPR compliance is one of 2020’s most essential ethics and compliance trends.


Non-compliance with GDPR can cost thousands of dollars in fines. Download our free GDPR compliance checklist to ensure you’re covering all your bases.


Automate Your Compliance


With so many laws and regulations to comply with, it can be difficult to keep track of them all. Juggling so many requirements might lead to slow, inaccurate reporting. Automating compliance functions not only saves you time, but also reduces your risk of non-compliance.

For example, a system that flags team members’ connections to case subjects can eliminate conflicts of interest. A case management system with built-in templates ensures that you always complete and file the right documents and do it correctly (such as OSHA forms and EEOC-compliant complaint forms).

Cutting out steps in your workflow limits the possibility of human error, plus frees up time for your compliance team to conduct other tasks. Automated compliance also keeps you up to date with changes and new legislation.

Automation helps you take a more proactive role in compliance, as well. Rather than dealing with mistakes, you can prevent them from happening in the first place.


Learn how i-Sight’s end-to-end case management solution can help you uncover problems early, address them quickly and maintain a safe and ethical workplace.


Encourage “Speak Up” Culture


In its latest Global Business Ethics Survey, the Ethics & Compliance Initiative found that favorable ethics outcomes increase by 14 times when employees are encouraged to speak up.

Businesses are starting to realize the importance of promoting a culture of reporting, where employees are encouraged to “blow the whistle” on those who don’t follow laws and organizational policies. Whistleblowers are an invaluable source of information that can boost your prevention and detection efforts.

Having a reputation of being open, honest and ethical will not only help you attract customers in 2020, but also make you appealing as a business partner and employer to the best available talent.


RELATED: 5 Ways to Ensure Your Ethics Hotline is Successful


Increase Your Corporate Social Consciousness


“Almost nine in 10 (87 percent) of the employees Gartner surveyed said they expect companies to take a public position on social issues relevant to the business,” notes Stephanie Quaranta, a data privacy research director at Gartner. “But this is not easy to do well, and the consequences of getting it wrong can be steep, as stakeholders from employees to investors feel more empowered to demand change.”

More and more, customers and employees alike decide which companies to associate with based on their values. That’s why one of the year’s biggest ethics and compliance trends is increasing your social consciousness as a company.

Take a stance on timely issues (based on your corporate values and target customers) and act on them. For example, sponsor a fundraising event for a charity or offer employees paid volunteer hours to work with a specific organization.


Emphasize Ethical Company Culture


Michael Volkov, principal lawyer at the Volkov Law Group, says that “CCOs are responsible for monitoring and promoting a company’s culture. They have to ensure that senior management devotes adequate time and attention to embed a company’s culture and promote its culture as an effective control against corporate misconduct.”


Promoting a culture of ethics and compliance in your organization. When employees are encouraged to act according to ethical and legal standards, you reduce the risk of non-compliance fines, as well as losing customers in a scandal.

Recent DOJ evaluation guidelines require companies to establish “policies and procedures that incorporate the culture of compliance into its day-to-day operations,” making this one of the most important ethics and compliance trends of 2020.


RELATED: 6 Core Values Exercises for Defining Your Company’s Ethics Culture

Ann Snook
Ann Snook

Marketing Writer

Ann is a marketing writer at i-Sight Software. She writes about issues related to investigations of fraud, employee misconduct, corporate security, Title IX, ethics & compliance and more.

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