How does corporate culture influence the success of companies? What does compliance entail, and what role does whistleblowing play in it? These questions were answered by Rohia Hakim, who worked as a Compliance Specialist for Ernst & Young (EY) for almost 10 years and now serves as a Compliance Officer for CTP Invest.
Compliance probably found me, rather than the other way around. At the time I was working for a multinational company. After several acquisitions and mergers, it became necessary to improve the company culture. So a huge HR program was implemented to change the company culture, for which I was the main face. Thanks to its successful implementation, I was ‘discovered’ by Ernst & Young and in 2011 accepted a job offer with them. That’s how I gained experience in compliance across various sectors and organizations, both in the private and public sphere. Compliance is definitely a fulfilling job and, in some ways, a calling.
In my view, compliance is a lot more than simply adhering to laws and rules. Compliance is about obeying legal requirements, regulatory requirements, internal regulations, ethical standards, and ‘going the extra mile’. Especially from an ethics point of view, co-existing with the company’s surroundings and the like. I’m of the view that the law cannot cover all of life’s situations. Ethics improves an organization’s performance, reduces transaction costs, and strengthens employee loyalty. I believe that everyone would like to work in an ethical organization. In addition, it is clear that public pressure is increasing for corporate social responsibility.
Today it is absolutely clear that conducting their business ethically is critical for companies. Perhaps not globally, but definitely in developed countries. For example, I definitely see this sensibility among the younger generation, who prefer companies with higher ethical standards – whether they are a customer or potential employees, they are not willing to compromise or make concessions.
Various analyses have long shown that whistleblowing is clearly the most common way companies uncover fraud. And it makes sense. Typically, it is employees that uncover fraud, since employees can catch or witness unusual behavior.
I have many years of experience with whistleblowing. I have seen how companies can uncover instances of serious fraud through whistleblowing. It often reveals the possible manipulation of public contracts or details of corruption. Specifically, we could look at the case of whistleblowing in the tobacco industry, which was beneficial for the public at large. In that case, an internal whistleblower revealed that cigarettes (which, up until that point, were hugely promoted and consumed en masse) were harmful to our health and highly addictive. Something which cigarette producers until then vehemently denied.
The challenge is definitely that you have to constantly make yourself known to colleagues. So that compliance becomes an integral part of their daily lives. A positive part. I want to be a partner, not a threat or punitive agent. To be supportive rather than an obstacle to business. And also the fact that compliance is constantly changing. I don’t just mean legislation and requirements, but also the overlap of the two. A modern compliance officer also needs to know their way around data protection, ESG, and cyber security (IT). These are complex areas and require further professional development. And lastly communication. Communication is key, as with everything.
Whistleblowing - just a bureaucracy or an opportunity for your company?
Try FaceUp - A customisable whistleblowing system that's trusted by 3,000 companies and schools worldwide.