By Rodrigo Beraldo
Former Compliance & Governance Manager
Brazillian Infrastructure Company
Working with Corporate Compliance in Brazil for about 5 years now, in the midst of the largest and most relevant anticorruption operation lead by the country’s authorities, with dozens of politicians prosecuted and/or arrested, with hot discussions in the high courts of the country and with large companies going bankrupt due to their corrupt practices along the last decades, I feel that the population starts to show signs of a culture change. However, according to researchers, a culture change takes at least 7 years to occur. A change of this magnitude in a wide country like Brazil may take a while. The good thing is that it clearly started, despite some skeptical groups that see no real change and do not believe this might occur. Well, personally, I believe and hope they will have to rethink their ‘certainties’ in a couple of years.
Despite all the fuzz, I still have difficulties to talk about Corporate Compliance every time I speak with plant floor workers in construction or industrial personnel, for that the Corporate Compliance speech is usually aimed at the “air conditioned corporate environment” and less to the plant floor personnel.
One could say that the most relevant corruption usually occurs at the offices and not at the plant floors. That may be true. However, I see corporate Compliance as a way to improve the life of people and the work environment. I understand that the real role of Corporate Compliance is to take care of the people to make their lives better, at home and at work. Because good and mindful people are what make good companies. Except for some odd exceptions, we do not find great companies, with a good reputation for its work, quality or professionalism with incompetent, corrupt or lazy workers. As we do not find bad companies, with bad products or services and a bad reputation full of competent, efficient and honest workers. It is all on the people. On the workers in all tiers. The development of “Compliance skills” in the workforce makes better professionals and better citizens. This will make better companies and better neighborhoods, and cities and countries.
In this sense, the idea of including Ethics as a subject in the elementary or middle schools sounds highly adequate in a country like Brazil that suffers from a poor culture in this field. Children tend to be more understanding of basic concepts and as children, they usually embarrass parents for their bad behavior such as crossing a red light or throwing garbage in the streets (yes, people still do this, unfortunately), or jumping a line. These bad practices contribute to form bad citizens, bad parents who will raise children in a bad way. So, Corporate Compliance trainings may be seen as opportunities to rethink, recycle old concepts to improve people. And I believe this automatically improves companies and, hopefully, more than that. It is all about the people.
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