Diversity is guaranteed to help companies reach their objectives. Well-integrated organizations are proven to innovate, create new products, and achieve higher revenue better than the rest.

But does bringing in new perspectives help you sustain a culture of ethics and compliance?

Like ethics and compliance, the challenges to diversity are many, from prejudice to different interpretations and language barriers. In both dynamics, miscommunications can occur and have disastrous effects within the organization. But the same toolkit can be applied to both circumstances.

Today, we’ll discuss how the principles of workplace diversity enhance the impact of a regulatory compliance program. Read below for a research-based approach to operationalizing and improving regulatory compliance in your organization.

How a Culture of Diversity Translates Into a Culture of Ethics and Compliance

Similar to a culture of diversity, the first step in creating a culture of compliance is for leadership to declare a set of guiding principles. Establishing guidelines raises awareness with managers and employees. It then seeds the workplace with a guiding voice that both predicts adherence and mitigates risk.

Unlike in homogenous days, diversity culture has increased the threat of scrutiny. Diversity task forces are now used to reduce bias, as research shows employees acting with less bias when they might be asked to explain their actions.

If leaders coach employees about the essential nature of compliance, this same framework applies to regulatory compliance. Threatening employees with negative incentive – comply or else, diversity or else – is ineffective at steering action. Changing behavior requires accountability, not just value signaling.

To encourage adherence, go beyond ethics and compliance training. Create structures that encourage active participation. Use a routine compliance assessment to engage employees around regulatory issues. This will reiterate the importance of compliance while emphasizing the need for individual action that aligns with positive results both on paper and in the workplace.

Research by Deloitte found that people must feel included in order to fully contribute to elective workplace processes. To shift attitudes, call employees to attention.

How Adapting to Diversity Impacts Ethics and Compliance

As diversity becomes standardized, workplace adaptability increases. If a person’s beliefs or behaviors have fallen out of alignment with the new group mentality, they experience what psychology terms “cognitive dissonance.” To alleviate dissonance and its unpleasant mindstate, individuals tend to shift their behavior to what adheres with the accepted world-view.

Employee readiness to adopt new points of view and new policy directly affects compliance programs. An open and willing organization more readily accepts policy requirements. It also minimizes their risk for compliance failure. Simultaneously, individuals improve their immediate, everyday workplace experience by integrating new policy changes.

After World War II, Harvard sociologist Samuel Stouffer surveyed the racial attitudes of troops. He found that platoons which had integrated showed greater acceptance of the other racial groups and a greater willingness to work together than those that had been segregated. This exemplifies that when embracing diversity, organizational leaders should work to unify teams around workplace objectives of all sorts, including ethics and compliance.

Groups who’ve embraced change are more inclined to support necessary future changes than those who’ve yet to realize the benefits of integration. Increasing diversity enhances the acceptance of new ideas, but only if individuals recognize their personal agency is mandatory in this achievement.

Final Thought

A culture of diversity directly lends itself to a culture of ethics and compliance. Organizational leaders must instill a strong sense of positive values in the workplace, then create compliance functions to realize their goals. First, levy compliance assessments among employees to increase their engagement around compliance and signal that active compliance is expected.

Utilize the adaptability of employees when calling for regulatory compliance, and insist that employees actively engage with regularly policy shifts. Empowering your workforce with the principles of diversity yields auxiliary benefits in the form of regulatory policy observance and minimal risk of compliance failure.


By: Pat Harned