To state the obvious, training is an essential component of a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance program. However, not all FCPA training is equal and before plowing ahead with it a company ought to pause and reflect on the most appropriate way to deliver FCPA training.
The first issue to address is who to include in FCPA training.
Officers, directors, employees in high-risk job functions such as sales and marketing, and third parties are obvious candidates for FCPA training.
Because many instances of FCPA scrutiny arise from seemingly mundane corporate tasks such as securing foreign licenses and permits or interacting with customs and immigrations officials, it is important that company employees who perform these routine tasks are also included in FCPA training.
It is also important to include administrative assistants to many of the above job categories in FCPA training. While such individuals may not have direct contact with “foreign officials” or have decision-making authority in the company, these individuals are often most familiar with corporate channels of communications and can spot and identify FCPA risk at early stages if properly trained.
The important, yet often over-looked, role assistants play in a company was the focus of this recent article in the Wall Street Journal (“The Most Powerful Person in the Office”). It stated as follows.
“The schedulers, gatekeepers and caretakers of the corporate world are rarely seen, but they have a profound effect on the daily lives of the executives they serve. They do everything from booking business trips, ordering anniversary gifts and arranging pet care to attending high-level meetings and deciding who can and can’t meet with their bosses. The work can be thankless and often comes at a cost to their own personal lives, but these workers wield subtle influence at a company’s highest levels – and no small amount of power.”
While the article was not even remotely about the FCPA – or compliance in general – the above paragraph was spot-on in terms of why assistants who support corporate executives are an important cog in corporate affairs.
And for this reason, an important – yet often over-looked – participant in FCPA training.