Fundamental Questions for Self-Governing Organizations: The Compliance, Ethics & Integrity Answers

This table sets forth eight questions a self-governing organization or community should ask if it intends to control its own destiny. The matrix summarizes possible answers by way of the elements of an effective ethics/compliance program from U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations (“FSGO”) and Corporate Responsibility Program Best Practices.

Fundamental Ethics, Compliance, and Responsibility Questions

FSGO Elements of an “Effective” Compliance Program

Ethics/ Compliance Program Best Practices

1.  What standards should we set to (1) guide the behaviors of our members and other agents and (2) establish the legitimate expectations of our other stakeholders?

FSGO.1  Standards and Procedures to Reduce Misconduct  (Establish mandatory business ethics and legal compliance standards and procedures for employee and agent behavior that are reasonably capable of reducing the prospect of misconduct.  Standards and procedures should reflect industry norms and government regulations.)


2.  What structures, systems, and staff do we need to have in place for us to (1) integrate our standards throughout the organization and (2) manage our other stakeholders’ expectations?

FSGO.2  High Level of Accountability (Appoint and empower one or more high-level managers to oversee compliance with the standards and procedures.)


3.  How can we be ensure that we have the right people in the right places to pursue our purpose as an organization, follow our standards and procedures, and meet the reasonable expectations of our stakeholders?

FSGO.3  Due Diligence  (Use due care not to delegate substantial discretionary authority to individuals who are likely to engage in illegal activities.)


4.  How can we most effectively and efficiently (1) communicate our standards to our members and other agents and (2) establish legitimate expectations among our other stakeholders?

FSGO.4  Effective Communication  (Effectively communicate the standards and procedures by, for example, conducting training programs and distributing practical written materials.)


5.  How can we most effectively and efficiently determine if (1) our members and other agents are acting in accordance with our standards and (2) we are meeting our other stakeholders’ legitimate expectations?

FSGO.5  Auditing/Monitoring  (Take reasonable steps to achieve compliance with the standards and procedures by, for example, using auditing and monitoring systems, and by establishing a misconduct reporting system that employees can use without fear of retribution.)


6.  How can we (1) encourage our members and other agents to embrace our standards and (2) manage the expectations of our other stakeholders?

FSGO.6  Enforce Standards Consistently (Enforce the standards consistently through appropriate disciplinary measures, including, as appropriate, discipline of individuals responsible for the failure to detect an offense.)

7.  How should we respond when there is misconduct, mistakes, or misunderstandings? FSGO.7  Respond Appropriately and Learn through Experience  (After detecting an offense, respond promptly and appropriately and take all necessary steps to prevent further similar offenses. Where violations of law or significant individual misconduct have been substantiated, report to appropriate government authorities for further action. Organization should cooperate with appropriate government agencies.)  

8.  How can we consistently apply the reason, experience and knowledge of our members, other agents, and other stakeholders to (1) set appropriate standards and live by them and (2) be recognized as a contributing member of our communities?