Compliance Champions?
Yes please – but what’s best?
Part I

Who doesn’t love the idea of having an expanded reach?

Having people showing up throughout the organization holding the banner of compliance? Keeping you informed as they act as the eyes and ears on the ground in a way impossible for your valiant team (perhaps, your team of one)?

Compliance Champions are a great way to make all of this happen. But how do you do this? And if you already have a Champions program, are you making it the best it can be?

This is the first of two blogs on the topic of considerations for creating a successful Compliance Champions program. In this blog, we’ll focus on the fundamentals of choosing the participants and incentivizing them properly.

In the next blog, we’ll discuss how to set up a successful launch or refresh of the program and how to bring in goals, performance review, and Champion replacement.

Compliance Champion Considerations


There is no one size fits all Compliance Champions program. In fact, there isn’t even a single name for these programs.

For instance, I’m doing an in-person session at the upcoming SCCE conference in Phoenix on Compliance Champion programs (shameless plug: come to my session!). I’m being joined on the panel by Curt Fall from TIP Group (Amsterdam), Karen Nightingale from Royal Mail (London), and Allison Riter from nVent (Minneapolis).

These folks call their liaison partners Champions, Coordinators, Ombuds, and Ambassadors. Even within one panel session, the names are all different!

Important Questions


Just like there isn’t one name for these helpers, there isn’t only one right way to run these programs. Rather, there are many things to consider and decisions to be made. Following, please find some points to define in your program, as well as some variations that have been successful.

How will Champions be chosen?

Champions are typically selected one of three ways. They can be:

➡️ Self-selected

➡️ Nominated by their boss/department lead

➡️ Voluntold (ostensibly a volunteer, but actually given a not-so-subtle order)

In an ideal world, the Compliance Champions program would be so beneficial to employees that they clamor to be a part of it. While this doesn’t frequently happen in real life, if people self-select or voluntarily choose to be a part of the program, they are typically more enthusiastic than if they are semi-forced to do so.

In many programs, people are nominated by their boss, the head of the business or unit, or head of the region. Ideally, the boss is able to choose people based on positive temperament and commitment to compliance and ethics.

If people are “voluntold” – a great term meaning volunteered but not really on their own accord – that’s not an ideal situation. People are usually voluntold by their boss or by the Compliance department when others aren’t enthusiastic about joining the program. If you’ve got a voluntold group of Compliance Champions, see if you can make it more enticing to be part of the program.

That can be accomplished with a number of incentives…

How are the Champions incentivized?


Unless a Compliance Champion is trying to position themselves to be invited to join the compliance department, you’ll need to make it worth the employee’s while to participate fully.

How can you do that? There are a variety of ways.

These include:

➡️ Cash payments/bonuses

➡️ Salary bumps for taking on the role

➡️ Recognition events with senior management (g., an annual luncheon with the CEO for the Champions)

➡️ An award (g., Compliance Ambassador of the Year)

➡️ Recognition in the organization by way of interviews/blog posts/celebrations

➡️ Training in broad-based skill building like public presentation

➡️ Time off/vacation days as a thank-you for participation

➡️ Gift cards, free company merchandise, or other non-cash presents

Make sure there’s a reason for people to want to participate. If you can get a combination of incentives, you’ll supercharge the reasons people want to participate.

What do the Compliance Champions do?


Compliance Champions have a wide range of responsibilities depending on the company. These tasks may be formal or informal.

Formal tasks may include:

➡️ Participating in the risk assessment process

➡️ Giving live training

➡️ Passing on communications within the group

➡️ Cascading policies and toolkits

➡️ Participating in or leading investigations (especially if investigations need to be done in languages not spoken by members of the Compliance department)

➡️ Running portions of Compliance and Ethics Week, like games

➡️ Attending training sessions and meetings of the Compliance Champions

➡️ Providing feedback on policies or training prior to its deployment

➡️ Assisting in translation of policies, procedures, or training

➡️ Chasing people within the department or business unit who have not completed their training on time

➡️ Sending numbers/metrics to assist in monitoring of the program

Informal tasks can be very important. These may include:

➡️ Being the “eyes and ears” of the Compliance Department on the ground

➡️ Comprehending red flags such that they can report concerns easily to the Compliance team

➡️ Being a trusted resource for employees who don’t understand the program or policies

➡️ Being a place for employees to report concerns of misconduct

➡️ Being an extension of the compliance program to show strength in numbers

Whatever the tasks of the Champions, be sure to be clear on the expectations so that people know what they need to do.

Compliance Champion programs can be a huge benefit to the Compliance Department and to the organization as a whole.

Next time, we’ll dive into the nuts and bolts of creating a great launch or refresh event, and how to create compelling job descriptions, goals, and performance review. We’ll also be offering a downloadable checklist of considerations and options for the program. Stay tuned!

Kristy Grant-Hart

CEO of Spark Compliance Consulting

Kristy Grant-Hart is the founder and CEO of Spark Compliance.

She’s a renowned expert at transforming compliance departments into in-demand business assets.