Annual Compliance Tests

I’ve worked in corporate America for most of my life. It’s been boring but relatively lucrative, providing a degree of security that made it worthwhile. Throughout my career (31 cumulative years at more than a dozen different companies) but especially in the last decade, there has been one irritating facet that remained static no matter what company I worked for: annual compliance tests. This is a training and testing exercise conducted by HR for all employees to remind us of the ethics, values, and requirements of being a good employee at our company. It is MANDATORY for all employees and passing the test is required for continued employment (although, usually, we are allowed to take the test as many times as needed to pass). Violating any of the tenets of the compliance test throughout the year is grounds for reprimand and even termination of employment. We all know this.

This dreaded annual rite of passage is seen mostly as a time suck and a waste of resources by us employees. It can take a few days to complete the process. But with the election of Trump, I’m even more impressed with the necessity for such training in the work environment. This year, as I stumbled through the dense training modules and struggled to answer the vague test questions, I was struck by ways that these questions apply to our current political environment.

Without a doubt, Trump would have failed the compliance testing at my company and probably would have been shown the door — abandoned as a non-essential and disruptive co-worker.

Here are some of the things I learned about in my most recent compliance training:

  • Consumer Complaints – how to respectfully respond to and track consumer complaints, using them to improve products and customer service going forward
  • Preventing Workplace Harassment – including how to respectfully manage transgender employees and bathroom issues
  • Code of Business Conduct – an entire tome on how to respectfully deal with employees, vendors, and customers
  • Information Protection and Handling – how to handle sensitive private data. And specifically, DON’T use company email for private business or vice versa.
  • Anti-Bribery and Corruption – how to recognize, report, and prevent it. Notably, you can’t take more than $50 from a potential vendor, don’t hire relatives, etc., etc.
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – what it is and why it is important. Except, the Trump administration is dismantling this bureau, so I imagine this section won’t be in next year’s test. Too bad, because it’s pretty obvious how important it is.
  • Anti-Money Lanudering  – how to recognize, report, and prevent it (thank you Michael Cohen)
  • Unfair, Deceptive, or Abusive Acts or Practices (UDAAP) – Federal laws regarding these marketing practices. Something akin to Trump lying on Twitter would violate this, I imagine.

At the heart of all this training are simple rules: we should all treat each other respectfully, honor diversity, not steal or lie, and generally be kind toward one another. It occurs to me that corporate America is doing a great service to our country by providing this training in basic ethics to millions of employees annually.

I wonder if Trump has any such compliance training in his own businesses and if he was ever required to take it? Maybe we should require these tests for our elected leaders as well. Why should they be held to a lower standard than the workers in corporate America?

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