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European Compliance & Ethics Conference 2021: The Key Learning Points

Key points about compliance and ethics delivered by 10 high-profile speakers at ECEC 2021

Niall McCarthy Niall McCarthy

    Last week’s European Compliance and Ethics Conference took place over two days and brought a whole host of compliance, ethics and whistleblowing experts together to share their views. The backgrounds of the speakers were incredibly varied, ranging from politicians with extensive experience of compliance in governance to an expert in behavioural science applications in ethics. Add in further speakers such as an award-winning author and a high-profile whistleblower and there were plenty of key learning points. Masterclass sessions, breakout sessions in local languages and networking events provided plenty of opportunities for the compliance experts to come together to discuss key aspects of ethics and transparency.

    Both days of ECEC 2021 were characterized by a series of fascinating talks from all across the compliance spectrum.

    Below, we are going to take a look at 10 of our high-profile speakers and a key point each one delivered.

    1. EQS Group Founder & CEO Achim Weick

    Achim made the point that ethics and integrity has to be at the center of a company’s mission and culture so that whistleblowers can report on corporate wrongdoing without fear of repercussions. Key here is investing in integrity, recognising patterns and prioritising and preventing misconduct.

    2. Human Risk founder Christian Hunt

    The thought process about how ethics and compliance relate to each other was a core aspect of Christian’s session and he remarked that we need to think about the relationship between them in totality. For this to occur successfully, it is vital to speak to employees in their own language as people tend to be more comfortable working for an organisation they know is ethical.

    3. Dr. Klaus Moosmayer, Novartis

    Klaus conducted a virtual session centered on how ethics is vital when it comes to building trust. He explained that training has to be conducted across the board in order to create an environment where employees feel encouraged to speak up if they encounter a situation involving wrongdoing such as a conflict of interest or unethical managerial behaviour. One important recommendation from Klaus is that ethics needs to be operationalised for employees before they even start working for the company.

    4. Catherine De Dordolot, Govern & Law

    Catherine’s interesting presentation explored how compliance is everyone’s business (not just that of the compliance officer or team) as well as how the IQ of the boardroom does not necessarily result in good decisions being made. She stated that acknowledgement of strengths and weaknesses is extremely important, as is the acknowledgement of the importance of diversity, gender and geographics to ensure the best decisions are made with an open mind.

    5. Peter Eigen, founder of Transparency International

    Peter Eigen has been battling corruption for three decades and his interesting presentation delved into how there is a magical triangle of good governance involving multiple stakeholders such as the government and NGOs. If this concept is implemented successfully, governments can develop a tremendous capacity to improve their governance in order to award honest people and sanction or constrain those participating in corruption.

    6. Kena Pitts, founder of LeadHer International

    Kena Pitts conducted an insightful virtual session about ESG compliance programs. Even though the fundamental process is not new, investors are paying more attention to it. As a result, there is a push towards more transparency as well as companies’ diversity and corporate hierarchy. Kena pointed out that investors are increasingly measuring company performance based on factors such as these.

    7. Carina Nilles, AlixPartners

    Carina’s session focused on intelligent compliance investigations, specifically how leveraging data is making investigations more efficient. She explained how 1.145 trillion MB of data gets created each day, posing a challenge for investigators seeking to identify and investigate possible wrongdoing. Carina highlighted comprehensive data visualization as a key tool for boosting investigation efficiency and effectiveness.

    8. Former German Finance Minister Dr. Theo Waigel

    Former German Finance Minister Dr. Theo Waigel held a presentation in Munich where he explained that compliance functionality has to become the norm for employees and that a “tone from the top” is essential. Dr. Waigel explained that one company cannot change the system alone and that the fight against corruption can only be successful if we work together as an alliance.

    9. David Bodanis, award-winning author

    Award-winning author David Bodanis attended the ECEC to provide some key messages and learnings from his new book. He remarked about compliance, stating that feedback gets blocked if legislators are considered enemies. When they are listened to, people learn and make alliances. One of the primary messages from his book is that fairness has remarkable properties: being decent and fair results in strengths, creativity, allies and rewards.

    10. Bradley C. Birkenfeld, UBS Whistleblower

    UBS whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld attended the conference to share his story about how his whistleblowing created an earthquake for Swiss banking. He remarked that many whistleblowers have been ostracised for doing what they considered right. One of his main recommendations is that law enforcement must embrace whistleblowers rather than incarcerating them as they want the truth to be told.

    If you missed the ECEC or attended but want to re-watch the sessions, you can find all of the speaker videos here Watch all ECEC 2021 replays
    Niall McCarthy
    Niall McCarthy

    Niall is a Content Writer at the EQS Group. Originally from Ireland, he previously worked as a journalist, which included reporting on major corruption trends worldwide.