This is a guest blog by Ellen Hunt, Spark Compliance Principal Consultant and Advisor.

I am often asked if someone needs to have a law degree to be an ethics and compliance professional.

The answer is no.

Some of the best and most talented ethics and compliance professionals that I have had the pleasure to work with, are ERM experts, auditors, marketers, data geeks, and simply all-around decent human beings.

I am also asked whether it is necessary to have certain certifications. The answer is no.

While having a certification may help, those who are self-learners know that the ever-changing field of ethics and compliance requires continuous learning and innovation.

What do you need to be successful in ethics and compliance? A strong moral compass, intellectual curiosity, and the willingness to seek out workable solutions.

The ethics and compliance profession, like all professions, needs to enhance diversity. It does not need to be dominated by lawyers or auditors to be effective. Rather the teams that will be the most successful are those that have unicorns.

By that I mean, team members whose backgrounds and experiences are unique. Whether what makes them unique is their area of study or experience, we should be seeking those that know things we don’t and that think differently.

I had the honor of being on the “Brunch and Learn” panel for the Compliance Week Conference and these themes of how one should conform were discussed. As was the Compliance Week study which reveals the pay disparity between male and female ethics and compliance profession. When asked what one should do when there are no market rate comparisons for the job that you do, my response was that “I think that Unicorns should get paid more.”

Just over 30 years ago the ethics and compliance profession was born in the United States with Chapter Eight of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and look how far we have come. Ethics and Compliance is now recognized as a profession worldwide. None of this would have happened without unicorns. Some of us were drafted or volunteered into the profession without even really knowing what it was. No one knew what it was. There was no market-rate comparison back then and there still isn’t now.

As ethics and compliance professionals, you cannot be compared to others. No one does what you do. You are all unicorns.

My thanks to the Great Women in Compliance podcast for highlighting the value of unicorns.

To Contact Ellen Hunt, please email ehunt@sparkcompliance.com. More information about Ellen can be found at www.sparkcompliance.com/ellen-hunt.

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