A culture of compliance can benefit an organization in many ways other than simply avoiding costly penalties and fines — it could even help propel you to being one of the world’s most ethical companies. At least that’s the case of American multinational toy and board game company Hasbro that’s featured in an article by management consultant Sabine Vollmer in the current issue of CGMA Magazine.
Hasbro, whose familiar brands include Easy Bake Ovens, Nerf Blasters, Transformers, GI Joe and Scrabble, managed to avoid the scandal associated with the recall of toys with excessive lead paint levels that affected more than three dozen other companies following a high-profile crackdown by U.S. lawmakers in 2007-2008. The reason, according Kathrin Belliveau, Hasbro’s vice president for compliance, government affairs and corporate responsibility, can be attributed to “a culture of ethics backed by senior management and directors – one that is reflected in auditing, internal controls and compliance programs.”
“We always talk about doing the right thing,” she says. “Sounds pretty simple, but it’s been our guiding mantra.” True to its mantra, Hasbro set far more stringent standards for lead in paint than the 2008 federal limits, Belliveau said. As a result, the company avoided the costly recalls, multi-million dollar legal settlements, and negative publicity associated with the lead paint crisis which badly damaged the reputations of many other toy makers.
That mantra of “doing the right thing” has also helped Hasbro earn the distinction this year of being one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies, an award granted by the Ethisphere® Institute, an independent research organization based in Scottsdale, AZ that promotes best practices in corporate ethics and compliance. The award recognizes companies that not only promote ethical business standards and practices internally, they exceed legal compliance minimums and effectively shape future industry standards.
As noted by Vollmer, a 2014 survey by the Association of Corporate Counsel, which polled more than 1,200 chief legal officers or general in-house counsels in 41 countries, found that 88% of respondents named ethics and compliance as their top concerns, ahead of regulatory changes (83%) and information privacy (79%).