By Jamie Kellicut, BSW, CCEP
Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin
Senior Compliance Officer with Forest County Potawatomi Gaming Commission, Milwaukee, WI
As a Compliance Officer in tribal regulation I have at times struggled with keeping my culture at the forefront of my compliance work. But a few years ago I found a way to connect the two. I took a step back and reminded myself that compliance and ethics are not just corporate buzz words. They are imbedded within my cultures traditional ways. Well before we knew how to say the word compliance there were the Seven Grandfather Teachings. They were the principles of living.
In a society that pulls us in many directions it can be a struggle to remember how to keep balance and to remember those teachings within our careers and our home lives. Everyone is busy with families, careers, extra-curricular activities and so on. Sometimes there is even a loss as to the importance compliance has on our communities and the important roles we all play in our respective industries. As a Compliance Officer I am constantly looking for ways to help us along in understanding and maintaining balance.
I wanted to break down the Seven Grandfather Teachings as I have been taught because it is these teachings that are said to be needed for our communities survival. In other words, for us to stay in balance, we need to practice these teachings.
My hope is that you will gain a new found respect for minobimaadizi / living well…living well in your careers and your home life. I hope you enjoy learning and connecting to the Seven Grandfather Teachings.
The first word is from the Grandfather Teachings with the definition as I have been taught and the second word is how I relate it to compliance.
- Respect – Place others before yourself in your life, don’t look down on anyone.
Code of Conduct and policies – Having a code of conduct and policies is one of the essential elements of a Compliance Program. It is a process that guides us in “doing the right thing”. To me, that is what respect is all about…doing the right thing in all aspects of life.
- Love – It is my turn, I have to love myself before I can love anyone different.
Compliance Officer = good listener – As compliance professionals we have an obligation to our organization, the public, and the profession. One way we are able to do this is through good listening skills. We have a duty to hear the issues at hand and to help find resolution. To me, listening is a reflection of love. It is how we can express our love for our job, our tribe (community) and the people we are surrounded by.
- Truth – You have to look at yourself before you judge another’s way of walking.
Ethics – When we have a good sense of ethics we are showing truth. If we are true to ourselves, our families and our duties we are showcasing we have a high regard for ethics. This is the catalyst behind compliance. We have a duty to uphold to the highest regard integrity, honesty, and ethics. Without that we are not doing our job or our industry justice.
- Bravery – Right now to hold firm thoughts and strongly stand when you don’t know what will happen. Hold firm in your thoughts and stand strong even when you don’t know what will happen right now.
Reporting and Investigating– It is our job to stand up for what we know is right. It is a brave thing to do. It is not always easy to do but it is essential in our line of business. If we come across something that is ethically unsound and/or is not in compliance with our governing documents, we all have a duty to report. Be brave!
- Wisdom – Wisdom I am able to speak well and to take well (what) someone says. Wisdom allows me to eloquently and correctly interpret others ideas.
Education – In my opinion, education is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and those around us. It also happens to be one of the essential elements of a compliance program. Education is one of the most important if not the most important line of defense when it comes to strategies for preventing risk. To continue to be at the fore front of any industry and in life itself we must continue to be educated. Without it we will be left behind and possibly at great risk for corruption and unethical behavior.
- Generosity – Ability you have and generosity to disperse to others. You have the ability to give things away and distribute what you have.
Collaboration – I just wrote about the importance of education and now I must stress that sharing that information is just as important. We are traditionally a generous people. It is not our way to hold people back or to succumb to greed. It is in our blood to collaborate and work together. Being generous with our knowledge is the right thing to do.
- Humility – Be humble you walk with yourself to the way you walk with someone. Humble yourself to your fellow human in the way you walk with him or her.
Commitment to the values and ethics of the organization – When I think of this statement I think about leading by example. When we have humility we can bring ourselves to the point of knowing it isn’t about “me”. It’s all about using our experience and knowledge for good to show the way for someone else. I view part of our jobs as showing the way for our future generations. The best way we can do this is through true commitment to our values and ethics.