7 Tips for a Great Compliance Website
How to present your compliance programme on your company website for employees, customers and suppliers.
Companies are investing more resources in compliance, yet many rarely comment publicly about how they comply with laws and maintain ethical standards. Information about the compliance programme is rarely available on the company’s own website and if it is mentioned, the content is often incomplete, outdated or poorly presented . It is not only the company’s own employees that are interested in gaining an insight – customers, suppliers and the general public want to find out more too. We provide tips for building a compelling compliance section on your company’s website.
Does my company even need a compliance section on its website?
While in practice it is mainly large and international corporations that provide detailed information about compliance measures on their corporate websites, there are also good reasons for small companies and SMEs to make at least the essential cornerstones of their compliance efforts transparent:
- Customers, business partners and (potential) investors are increasingly paying attention to a company’s compliance maturity
- Observing ethical values makes the company more attractive to potential job applicants (employer branding)
- Important compliance information such as the whistleblowing system or the contact details for the compliance officer can be found in one central location
- Compliance information is already clearly structured and presented which saves time when preparing audits or tenders
Building a separate compliance section on your company website does not have to be a huge project. Smaller companies in particular can achieve significant impact with little effort.
A one-page compliance section: all important information at a glance
A one-page compliance section is a streamlined and appealing way to present your compliance programme on the company website. There should just be a single page with no sub-pages or separate menu. Interested visitors can simply scroll through the page and find the information relevant to them.
A compliance one-pager could feature the following (the individual points will be discussed in more detail later in the article):
- The most important sections of the Code of Conduct, provided in graphic format suitable for the web or available as a download
- An exciting header featuring the compliance programme slogan
- A tone-from-the-top element, for example a quote or video message from the board or managing director
- Overview of the core components of the compliance programme
- Insights from within the company: let your employees have their say
- Information about and/or link to the whistleblower system
- Contact details for the compliance officer
Using these seven points, companies can present their most important compliance information without investing excess time and energy. In the following section we look at these individual points in more detail.
The advantage of this approach: If your compliance programme grows over time, you can gradually enhance the page with sub-pages so that it can develop into a standalone compliance area on the website.
7 pillars of a successful compliance website
1. Use the Code of Conduct as a basic framework
Most companies now have a central Code of Conduct. Ideally, this should already convey your company’s essential values and compliance standards. Use the Code of Conduct as a basis for designing the content of your compliance website.
However, it is not sufficient to make the 80-page document available as a PDF file. Instead, use the Code of Conduct as a basis for content and convert the most important parts into a graphic format suitable for the web. Ideally your internal guidelines will already include some imagery that can be easily transferred to a website.
Some companies even go so far as to make the Code of Conduct its own standalone microsite and this can be a great way to make corporate regulations more accessible to different audiences. A virtual Code of Conduct also contributes positively to a company’s public image.
2. Leave a lasting impression with a strong slogan
“Fair Play”, “Driving in the right direction”, “Our company’s business is clean business” – if your compliance programme already has a slogan, it should definitely feature on the compliance website. If not, it may make sense to start developing one. A slogan catches a wider audience’s attention and highlights the importance of compliance to your company.
3. Convey tone from the top
Compliance officers are in agreement: your compliance efforts are useless if management is not behind them. Top management is also a powerful ally when it comes to communication. It makes sense therefore to demonstrate that top management actively supports and lives the company’s compliance values.
For example, a quote from the CEO or managing director, ideally accompanied by a head-and-shoulders image, is sufficient here. Even more powerful, but also more time-consuming to prepare, is a short video message. The top corporate executive expresses in their own words what the company‘s compliance programme stands for and means to them.
4. Explain the core features of the compliance programme
Depending on the size of the company, compliance systems can be very complex. No one is expecting an organisational chart that depicts all internal responsibilities and local compliance officers. Rather the aim here is to make the core features of the compliance programme understandable for the layperson.
For example, an infographic that illustrates all the important elements of the programme is a good starting point. Some companies build on known standards and adapt them to their own company – for example “Prevent – Detect – Respond” or the core features of the compliance programme according to ISO 19600 or IDW PS 980.
An overview like this shows non-specialists how you live compliance in your own company. That the company analyses risks, draws up and distributes policies, conducts training and enables the reporting of breaches gives a wider audience a good insight into your compliance efforts.
5. Let employees have their say
Tone from the top is important, of course, but equally important is letting employees explain the importance of compliance in their day-to-day work. How do they perceive the company values and what touchpoints have they had with issues such as corruption or conflicts of interest?
Letting employees have their say shows that the company’s compliance efforts are not just paying lip service to the regulations, but that corporate values are deeply rooted in the organisation. A campaign like this requires some time and effort to organise. Employees and subject matter have to be identified and photographed or filmed. However, it is worth investing this time and effort because many people would rather learn details about the compliance programme from real people on the ground than from the board or abstract graphics and text.
6. Offer a whistleblowing system and contact options
Most companies that have their own compliance functions also have a whistleblowing system. Whistleblowing systems are now becoming mandatory in the European Union through the ongoing transposition of the EU Whistleblowing Directive. If your whistleblowing system is publicly available, it should certainly feature on your compliance website.
Not only should the different whistleblowing options be explained, but also what should be reported and why. If you use a digital whistleblowing system, link directly to the system; often the most important information for potential whistleblowers is explained in the FAQ section.
If your whistleblowing system is not open to the public, it may be worth considering doing so. Companies often miss out on valuable information from suppliers, business partners or customers if the whistleblowing system is only accessible internally. The proportion of abusive reports that come in via whistleblowing systems is generally very low, regardless of whether the system is public or not.
7. Add contact information for compliance officers
Do not forget to add contact information for the compliance team on the page. This will ensure that your employees always know who to contact in case anything compliance-related crops up.
The compliance website as a powerful communication tool
In addition to these tips, there is plenty more information which particularly larger companies could consider adding to their compliance site:
- Existing compliance system certifications
- Annual compliance reports as downloads
- Central, group-wide policies as a download
- Selected key statistics, for example on the number of whistleblower reports received
- Bespoke information for suppliers and business partners (e.g. Supplier Code of Conduct)
The possibilities are endless. One thing to remember is to always keep the target group in mind. Designated compliance experts rarely need a compliance overview. The content should be easy to understand and accessible. If in doubt, refer to the internal communications or marketing department or use external communication specialists.
Investing in your compliance website is a worthwhile exercise. Not only is it a great communication and corporate image tool, the content can often be used for other purposes. Videos or graphics produced for the site can also easily be recycled for internal communication purposes, such as in presentations or compliance training sessions.
Key principles of establishing an effective ABC programme