Social Media and Your Compliance Program


Bill Piwonka, Amanda Mayhew and Rodica Buzescu from EthicsPoint gave a webinar on social media and compliance. These are my notes:

The presentation started with a user poll on the approach to social media at the attendees’ organizations:

  • 27% block all social media sites
  • 42% block a few social media sites
  • only 29% allow all social media sites

In a second question, I was surprised to see that 37% of the attendees said they were using some form of Web 2.0 in their ethics program. That seemed like a big number to me.

Bill started off with a brief discussion of his view of web 2.0 and social media. He also highlighted some of the approaches and tools used by EthicsPoint. He moved on to the need of companies to monitor their brand. It easy for customers, employees and competitors to craft your brand for you (and not in the way you want). You need to know what is being said and be prepared to respond when necessary.

On the call, 11% of the attendees did not use any social media platform, 11% used one, and 40% used 2 or three. The rest (like me) used more.

Why should compliance care about Social Media? It is here to stay. Generation Y and the Millennials grew up an learned in the world of social media. They enter business organizations and are cut off from the tools they used to learn and communicate.

Rodica took over and shared her perspective. She is new to EthicsPoint. When she started, she was cut off from her networks since they blocked Facebook, instant messaging and many other social media tools.

Amanda took over and gave her perspective as the general counsel and privacy officer at EthicsPoint. She pointed out that younger workers may not have been in the business environment long enough to realize that there are limits on what you can say outside the organization and inside the organization. EthicsPoint focuses on privacy and protection of their clients information. They have a tight policy on social media to protect that information.

Bill stepped up and pointed out that you cannot ignore social media. Even if you block access, employees can easily access them from a mobile device or home. Blocking is not an effective policy. You need to let your employees know what they can and cannot do. You need a policy. Bill used Intel’s Social Media Guidelines as an example.

Bill also pointed out that even if the company does not want to engage in social media, they need to monitor what is being said about your company in social media. You also want to make sure that someone else does not use your brand on social media platforms.

Amanda came back to emphasize a few points. It is important to make it clear what is confidential and what is not public. Another point was to be respectful, realizing that your mother, friends and boss may ready what you say. Anonymity is also a hot button for her.

What can you do? How can compliance professionals use Social Media?

Create a Facebook group for your compliance team. Allow people to see who you are and develop a relationship and trust.

Use YouTube to host and distribute training videos. Why buy expensive video hosting servers and software when YouTube will do it for free.

Best Buy uses a blog to make ethics a completely transparent dialogue.  Best Buy’s Chief Ethics Officer blogs on actual ethics and incidents at Best Buy. Of course, she does not use real names and disguises identifying information.

Use web 2.0 for professional development by joining online communities focused on ethics and compliance issues. EthicsPoint has user forums focused on its product.

In the Q&A there was a lot of discussion about how much to monitor and how much to limit. “Ignorance is not bliss.”

Another issue that came up in Q&A is who to friend on Facebook and who to make connections with on LinkedIn. In particular in the educational environment it is very tricky to friend or not friend. There is a similar dynamic in the workplace.

What about productivity? Does Facebook turn you into a slacker? Does blogging make you less useful? Bill turned this around and gave example of how he uses these tools as part of his job. (It was an impressive list.)

How do you develop your own policy? EthicsPoint started with Intel’s Social Media Guidelines as their model.  (You can also take a look at one of my models: Blogging / Social Internet Policy.)

(In the interest of disclosure some of the material was borrowed from my presentation on Social Media at the Boston EthicsPoint Regional User Forum in Boston. Bill also noted this in the presentation)

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