Consulting services for businesses

Businesses of all sizes face an ever-increasing number of regulations and standards. Even small businesses are now subject to government regulations, industry standards, and certification requirements.

With so many regulations and standards to follow, it’s easy for even the most well-intentioned businessperson to make a mistake that could have serious consequences.

That’s why many businesses hire an ethics and compliance consultant. An ethics and compliance consultant will help your business stay compliant with laws, regulations, and industry standards so you don’t put your company at risk.

What is an Ethics and Compliance Consultant?

An ethics and compliance consultant helps businesses stay compliant with the law and industry standards. The consultant can help your business stay in compliance with government regulations and industry standards, such as:

Cultural change: Many organizations still struggle with a culture of discrimination, harassment, or other ethical issues. An ethics and compliance consultant can help your organization make the cultural changes needed to comply with the law.

Conflicts of interest: Most organizations have employees who provide services to other businesses. An ethics and compliance consultant can help make sure that your employees aren’t in a position where they could be a victim of or engage in unethical or illegal behavior.

Consumer protection regulations: Most organizations are required to comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) regulations on truth in advertising, and state and federal laws covering other consumer issues such as data security and privacy.

Why is Ethics and Compliance Consulting Important?

With so many regulations and standards to follow, it’s easy for even the most well-intentioned businessperson to make a mistake that could have serious consequences.

Your business could be fined, suffer a loss of revenue, or even go out of business because of an ethics violation. In some cases, a violation of ethics or compliance regulations could also have personal consequences for your company’s employees. Violations could lead to fines or jail time for company employees, and may even result in personal lawsuits.

If your company isn’t compliant, you could lose customers and revenue. Businesses that ignore regulations drive away customers and risk being out-competed by other companies that are more ethical.

The Importance of Cultural Change for Businesses

It’s important for all businesses to make cultural changes to ensure compliance. And for many companies, that process isn’t easy.

Given the high-profile sexual harassment and discrimination scandals that have rocked industries from Hollywood to Silicon Valley over the past several years, many organizations have made the cultural shift away from inappropriate and unethical behavior.

But in other industries, particularly in regulated industries like healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and finance, cultural issues are still a huge problem.

Conflicts of Interest Regulations

Conflicts of interest can happen in any organization, but they’re especially common in industries like healthcare or consulting where employees are frequently serving clients who have direct or indirect financial relationships with their company.

Conflicts of interest could be an issue if your company employees are engaged with clients in any of the following ways:

Ownership or financial interests in other companies: Employees are required to disclose any financial interests in other companies, even if those interests are as minor as owning a few shares of stock in a publicly traded company.

Intellectual property: Employees who develop intellectual property for your company may be required to assign that IP to your company. Alternatively, your company may have to pay for access to the intellectual property.

Consulting or contracting with other clients: If your company employees have contracts with other clients that could affect their work for you, they may need to seek a waiver of the conflict of interest.

Ownership or financial interests in competitors: It’s also a conflict of interest if an employee has a financial interest in a competitor.

Consumer Protection Regulations

Consumer protection is a broad category that covers more than a dozen specific regulations. The specific regulations your company is required to comply with depend on the products and services you offer. Examples of consumer protection regulations are:

Truth in advertising: This regulation requires businesses to make accurate claims about their products and services and to avoid deceptive marketing practices.

Data security: Companies that collect or store consumer data must comply with state and federal data security laws.

Privacy: Health and financial-related businesses, like health insurance companies, banks, and credit bureaus, must comply with privacy regulations.

Environmental Regulations

Environmental regulations cover everything from air and water quality to waste management and recycling. Environmental regulations are enforced by federal, state, and municipal governments.

Environmental regulations apply to businesses of all sizes. You may have to comply with a single regulation, like recycling, or you may have to comply with a long list of different regulations. Environmental regulations apply to a wide range of activities, including:

Air pollution control: This regulation covers emissions, like smog and greenhouse gases, and noise pollution.

Water pollution control: This regulation covers waste that flows into lakes, rivers, and groundwater.

Solid waste control: This regulation covers the handling and disposal of solid waste, like old computers or unused chemicals.

Public health: This regulation covers the public health implications of your business activities, like food safety, disease control, and injury prevention.

Financial Crimes Regulations

Financial crimes and related regulations are a rapidly growing area in government oversight. The government wants to make sure that people and businesses aren’t using financial instruments to help fund terrorists, drug cartels, or other criminal activities.

Financial crimes and related regulations are being imposed by federal and state governments, as well as by the banking industry.

Financial Crimes and Regulated Transactions: This regulation covers any company or individual that is involved in a “transaction” that could be used to fund criminal activities.

So even if you’re not directly involved in money laundering or other criminal activities, you could be covered by this regulation if you do business with someone who is.

Anti-Money Laundering: This regulation covers financial institutions, like banks and credit unions, and businesses that provide certain financial services, like money transmitters, couriers, or casinos.

The regulation requires these companies to be on the lookout for financial transactions that could be used to fund criminal activities.

Final Words: Finding an Ethics and Compliance Consultant

The rules and regulations that apply to businesses are sometimes complex and seem to change frequently. If you’re not sure your business is compliant, consider hiring an ethics and compliance consultant.

An ethics and compliance consultant can help you understand the regulations that apply to your business and make the cultural and operational changes your business needs to stay compliant.