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Policies Promote the Rationalization for Values and Integrity

When we read the phrase “compliance and ethics program,” we sometimes overlook the interesting connection between the words “compliance” and “ethics” and how each contributes to the formation of an organization’s compliance and ethics program (CEP). Sometimes one can spark a lively discussion just by inviting other compliance professionals to describe the differences between compliance and ethics, and how these differences may compliment or potentially be in conflict with one another, as they both impact the overall effectiveness of a CEP. In addition, the fundamental differences between compliance and ethics may present a philosophical challenge for employees in their role of supporting or acting in accordance with the CEP. It is CEP May 2016important that a compliance professional understand some of the root causes of these philosophical differences, so as to be in a better position to address or help manage them when they occur.

To establish a frame of reference between compliance and ethics, I introduce two common ideas that are commonly applied to these terms. Compliance is often thought of as referring to the relationship of a CEP and the rules and regulations that apply to the organization. These rules and regulations typically take the form of local, state, and federal laws. Because these rules and regulations apply to other organizations within the same industry, they tend to provide an opportunity for compliance professionals to discuss how their respective organizations are working to satisfy the requirements that these rules and regulations demand.[1]