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Incident & Policy Management

Clear Policy Management Is Your Compliance Program’s Best Defense

In this blog post, we discuss the importance of clear, accessible policies in conducting a thorough investigation.

The purpose of any investigation into alleged misconduct is fairly straightforward: to uncover the truth. But what is the process or business focus? The answer should be simple: Any alleged misconduct should be linked to a violation of a published policy.

During the 2022 investigation of a break-in at U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home, then-chairwoman of the House Administration Committee Zoe Lofgren requested information as part of due process. Specifically, she asked, “With regard to any codified strategic plan, policy directives, and/or any standard operating procedures for officers to be detailed to field offices, were those followed by the Department and personnel…with respect to the [incident]? If not, why not?”

Lofgren didn’t ask if the incident was legal or illegal, good or bad, just or unjust. She asked very directly if there was a policy or procedure in place to govern the investigation guidelines and if it was followed. If not, why not?

If you’re opening an investigation into alleged behavior, start at the policy level by answering these five questions:

  1. Is there a published policy that specifically covers the alleged behavior? More specifically, what was the policy in place when the alleged incident actually occurred?
  2. Does that policy clearly define standards that the investigator can refer to when conducting a fair and unbiased investigation?
  3. Are there clearly defined conclusions if the employee violated the policy?
  4. Has the employee read and attested to understanding the policy? Have they agreed to abide by it?
  5. Is there anything in the policy that conflicts with local, state, or federal law?

At the end of the day, no matter what the scenario, policies should be well thought out, clear, and available if people are expected to follow them. If your existing policy management program does not check these boxes, a policy update is in order.

At StarCompliance, in addition to serving global, enterprise-level firms, we also serve smaller organizations with less experienced HR or compliance teams. The most common discussions we have with these teams, no matter the size, are centered around helping them frame their compliance program (including clarifying their policies) and driving employee adoption through accessibility. We’ve distilled this advice into a free white paper, “7 Deadly Sins of a Policy Management System.” The whitepaper also includes additional thoughts that a leader in any size company can benefit from — download it at the end of this blog post.

For more information about how automated employee compliance software can help you organize and streamline your corporate policies, request a demo with a StarCompliance team member today.