The DOJ has made clear that middle management is a critical part of any compliance program’s success. While it does all start at the top, with the Board of Directors and senior executives setting the tone for the rest of the company; prosecutors are mandated, under the 2019 Guidance to “how middle management, in turn, have reinforced those standards and encouraged employees to abide by them.” Moreover, the 2019 Guidance posed several question directly to middle management including the following: What actions have middle-management stakeholders taken to demonstrate their commitment to compliance or compliance personnel, including their remediation efforts? Have they persisted in that commitment in the face of competing interests or business objectives?

It is clear that the DOJ expects compliance to be operationalized down into the middle management level. Further experience has widely shown that employees prefer to speak to their direct supervisors about issues or potential compliance violations they become aware of. The question is how can a corporate compliance function reach middle management. This is a key area of assistance that can be provided by Human Resources as one of the ways that HR can help to operationalize compliance is to assist each level of an organization to have a proper tone, specifically, the middle of an organization

You must think about your lines of communication and your communication skills when conveying your message of compliance down from the top into the middle of your organization.

Three key takeaways:

  1. While tone at the top is critical, the tone in the middle can actually work to more fully operationalize compliance.
  2. How do you train middle managers?
  3. What compliance tool kit do you provide to middle managers?