How do we make compliance interesting and relevant?

This is a question we’re asked a lot, and in this introduction to our new Compliance report, our self-confessed compliance geek Paul Kelly discusses our unique approach…

Compliance isn’t working. And that’s not good enough.

The Cambridge dictionary definition of compliance is ‘the act of obeying an order, rule, or request…’


At every turn in life, we are being told what to do and when to do it. The last thing we want to do is read yet another manual packed with rules and regulations.

Have you read this compliance report? Tick.

Have you actually?

Probably not…

Who has the time, right?

There’s still a widespread belief that compliance is achieved by injecting as much knowledge as possible into an individual’s brain, like a sort of anti-liability vaccine.

As a consequence, mention compliance training and a collective groan circulates the room, along with an overwhelming sense of boredom and obligation.

Like it or not though, compliance is necessary.

You could say that the workplace is much like the world described in the words of Salman Rushdie:

“Two things form the bedrock of any open society —freedom of expression and rule of law. If you don’t have those things, you don’t have a free country.”

The consequences are too serious to ignore. The corrosive effects of non-compliance — on organisational cultures, on brand reputation, and on wider societal trust — affects us all.
So, compliance is necessary. But it doesn’t have to be boring.

Starting at the end of 2018, we invited a number of senior compliance officers from FTSE organisations across the UK to a series of workshops exploring what a better future for workplace compliance would look like. During these sessions we looked at the power of immersive technology and storytelling to nurture influence, and thought about the way employees at differing levels could better influence others to make an engaging compliance culture.

Together we discovered that true compliance only shows up in the relationships between individuals in an organisation:

People internalise compliant habits and behaviours because of the
norms we establish with colleagues as an interdependent social unit.

Through our workshop sessions we demonstrated how compliance situations unfold through transactions and moments between people of varying levels and influence.

Eventually we concluded that the key to creating a compliance culture is enabling people at all levels to understand and express the value of compliant-first performance, thereby influencing those around them to do the same.

This report is our initial overview of the findings of these sessions, along with expert insight from key delegates at the event.

It represents the first step in an ongoing programme of events and publications redrawing the boundaries and ambitions of what a successful, engaging corporate compliance culture looks like.

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