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The power of social media

Tom Fox | June 26, 2017

The opening paragraph of the Holder Report to the Uber Technologies board of directors reads, “On February 19, 2017, Susan Fowler, a former engineer at Uber Technologies published a blog post detailing allegations of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation during her employment at Uber and the ineffectiveness of the company’s then-existing policies and procedures. The next day, Uber retained Eric Holder and Tammy Albarrán, partners at the law firm Covington & Burling, to conduct a thorough and objective review. Last week saw the resignation of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, and it all began with a blog post.

This was the first time that a blog post by a former employee brought down a CEO and exposed a hugely toxic culture in an organization. Fowler’s post is to be commended on that basis alone.

However, it shows the power of multiple channels of communication open in the 21st century for the compliance practitioner. If, as a compliance practitioner, you are not using all the channels available, you may be missing out on an inexpensive form of communication that could resonate with your employee base and meet the Justice Department’s requirements around operationalizing your compliance program.

Fowler’s example also reinforces the use of social media as a tool for positive and proactive compliance communications. Why not use them to help you market the message of compliance?

Louis Sapirman of Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), for example, regularly connects with employees through internal company tweets and other innovative techniques to tell stories related to compliance, using the hashtag #DoTheRightThing.

The Fowler blog post that brought down the CEO of a company valued at $70 billion did not occur in a vacuum. The rot of toxicity existed in Uber. Fowler only brought it to the surface. Yet, she demonstrated how powerful one blog post can be. The same is true for your compliance program; you should endeavor to make use of the tools available to you.