One of the most important elements of a robust compliance program is training. As mentioned in the Resource Guide to the FCPA, “DOJ and SEC will evaluate whether a company has taken steps to ensure that relevant policies and procedures have been communicated throughout the organization, including through periodic training.”
Moreover, simply conducting training is not enough. The Resource Guide mentions that “regardless of how a company chooses to conduct its training, the information should be presented in a manner appropriate for the targeted audience.” FCPAméricas has previously discussed training here, here, and here.
There are practical steps companies can take to maximize the efficiency of their FCPA training in Latin America and ensure that they are “appropriate for the targeted audience.” Here are eight:
1. Identify the audience. Frequently, companies prepare training materials for their “Latin American employees”. Such trainings, however, often disregard the needs, levels of sophistication, and exposures to risk of the different audiences (e.g., local management, legal, sales team, accounting personnel). If the “Latin American” audience does not perform a uniform function, companies should consider providing different types of training for different groups within that audience.
2. Use local language. Companies should provide training and training materials in the local language. The use of local language will not only allow employees to understand the training (many people in the region do not speak English or other foreign languages), it will also encourage active participation in the training. Even when local employees speak English, they tend to ask more questions and express more concerns when the training is conducted in their native language.
3. Refer to FCPA cases from the region. When local employees of companies subject to the FCPA receive FCPA training, they may feel that the law is far from their own reality, and that it will never be applied to them. To make the FCPA a more tangible concern, companies should refer to FCPA cases arising in the country or region where the training is being conducted. For example, if the training is in Argentina, the company may want to spend some time on the Ralph Lauren case, described here. If it is in Brazil, the company may want to discuss the Nature’s Sunshine and Biomet cases, described here. The closer the cases are to the employees’ reality (e.g., same industry, individuals playing similar roles), the more effective the training will be.
4. Refer to local laws and enforcement. Companies should also refer to local anti-bribery laws during FCPA trainings. This will remind employees that, in addition to the FCPA, local laws might also apply to their conduct. Moreover, if data about local enforcement of anti-bribery laws is available and shows strong enforcement, it can serve as an additional tool to convince employees to comply with anti-bribery laws. For example, companies conducting training in Brazil may want to mention that between 2008 and 2012, the number of individuals convicted for active and passive corruption and related crimes in the country has increased 133%. Such data can also help convince employees that anti-corruption efforts are not only about the FCPA.
5. Adapt training materials to the local culture. Training materials for Latin American subsidiaries of U.S. companies often consist of translated versions of the materials used at headquarters, without any adaptations. These materials often do not consider local contexts and can fail to connect to participants. For example, a hypothetical in which a public official is taken to a baseball game may seem odd in Brazil or Argentina and reinforce the perception that FCPA issues are exotic and far from the local employee’s reality. Adapting this example to refer to taking an official to a game of the Libertadores Cup (South America’s premier international soccer tournament) could make this part of the training seem more tangible and immediate.
6. Include real-life scenarios. Companies should include hypothetical situations that are similar to situations that local employees might encounter in their jobs. This is a useful tool to show employees how situations can arise within their own world. This part of the training often generates robust discussions that increase overall anti-bribery awareness.
7. Do not overdo slides. Training materials prepared by companies often contain too many slides with too much text. This approach usually does not work in the region. Employees tend to read the slides while missing important points of the presentation. It is best to limit the text in the slides to transmit the main ideas. It also helps to include visual material (e.g., pictures) in the slides, to make the presentation friendlier and call the attention of employees.
8. Do not be too formal. For trainings in Latin America, it is important to have a mid-level presentation style. To ensure the audience is comfortable asking questions, the presentation should not be overly formal. At the same time, it cannot be too relaxed. This would take away from the credibility of the trainer and seriousness of the subject.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author in his or her individual capacity, and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone else, including the entities with which the author is affiliated, the author`s employers, other contributors, FCPAméricas, or its advertisers. The information in the FCPAméricas blog is intended for public discussion and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal advice to its readers and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It does not seek to describe or convey the quality of legal services. FCPAméricas encourages readers to seek qualified legal counsel regarding anti-corruption laws or any other legal issue. FCPAméricas gives permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author and to FCPAméricas LLC.
© 2013 FCPAméricas, LLC
Post authored by Carlos Henrique da Silva Ayres, FCPAméricas Contributor