Living in a COVID-19 world has changed the way we work, interact, travel, and even eat. The pandemic has forced us into a new normal, but even in this uncertain time, some steadfast truths and principles remain the same. First, be kind to one another; second, always leave something better than you found it; and third, never cut corners on your commitment to compliance, privacy, and risk management programs.
That third truth touches on an increasingly tough topic: maintaining tailored and effective corporate governance programs in the face of a global pandemic. As companies struggle to adapt, their focus lies on delivering uninterrupted service to their clients, as well as managing costs and pursuing revenue. While these are the core duties of any business and, frankly, what keeps them afloat, business leaders would be wise to take a more holistic approach to their business operations. It's easy to lose sight of the benefits of governance programs and allow a lapse in implementation and maintenance, but doing so is a big mistake.
Now more than ever, businesses and the clients they serve have an uncompromising need for stability. This need goes beyond the continuity of service and directly encompasses how service partners conduct business across various jurisdictions, maintain data confidentiality and security, and minimize threats of disruption. After all, unexpected interruptions in business practice can spell disaster, often inflicting irreversible damage to reputation and nonrecoverable revenue and costs. You probably already know this, and so do your clients and service partners, so why bring it up?
Human behavior tells us when major events occur in life, especially those that directly impact us, we become fixated only on that subject. This often produces the false sense that everything else has been put on hold. For example, look no further than the current state of the world – COVID-19 and social justice issues dominate the conversation. While these important subjects are worthy of our attention, there are other threats out there.
In the cyber world, criminals have been hard at work. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s IC3 Unit reports that since the beginning of the pandemic, they have received a 400% increase in cybercrime complaints year to date. Echoing this statistic, Google reports that, across its platform, Gmail users received 18 million COVID-19 related malware and phishing emails per day during April. In 2019, the FBI estimated the total financial impact on cybersecurity victims topped $3.5 billion. To apply these statistics using a corporate lens, consult Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report. In 2019, about a third of corporate data breaches resulted from phishing and, even more troublesome, phishing was present in 78% of cyber-espionage incidents. The worse news is, across the board, cybersecurity experts predict these numbers will continually rise, as they have since the inception of the IC3 Unit in 2000.
On a related matter, conducting business across various jurisdictions has become increasingly difficult due to an uptick in regulatory requirements and enforcement actions. The US Department of Commerce noted in a 2017 report that over the last 60 years, federal regulations have increased by 850%, and in the last 3 years alone, over 10,000 new regulations were enacted. Remember, these numbers only represent federal regulations in the United States – yikes! There is little doubt the implementation and maintenance of holistic corporate governance programs should be at the forefront of company initiatives, even where revenue streams are constrained.
What should you be doing right now to level up your compliance, privacy, and risk management programs? For starters, take a page out of the Dwellworks playbook.
Dwellworks has taken a strategic approach by developing its own unique programs by design. This concept requires companies to painstakingly map each and every operational action from the beginning to the end of service across all jurisdictions and apply the appropriate controls to those actions, resulting in very sophisticated, responsive, and proactive programs. Taking this a step further, Dwellworks has made corporate governance a way of life for our employees and service partners, not just a concept. After all, a corporate governance program is only as strong as the team’s weakest link, and we’d be living in a world of denial to say security incidents are not part of corporate life.
That’s why Dwellworks is committed to stringent and extensive technology protections and also regular training sessions, tabletop exercises, continuing education, reporting outlets, and rigorous oversight. Even with all of these measures (indeed the reason for all of these measures) humans are humans – they make mistakes. When mistakes are made, a smart and effective corporate governance program baked into the overall culture of the business helps to quickly mitigate impact and exposure and is ultimately what counts.
As a business necessity, Dwellworks has made many corporate governance commitments to deliver top to bottom vetted services – among them:
- GDPR compliance implementation through privacy expert TrustArc
- Retention and ongoing collaboration with our third-party Data Protection Officers in the European Union, United Kingdom, and Germany
- Annual recertification of the EU-US and Swiss-US Privacy Shield Frameworks through the US Department of Commerce and ongoing monitoring of the EU Court of Justice’s recent Privacy Shield ruling
- Employee and service partner compliance through regular criminal background checks, OFAC screenings, jurisdiction-specific verifications, and adherence to the Dwellworks Employee and Supplier Codes of Conduct
- Annual recertification of the European Relocation Association’s (EuRA) Global Quality Seal
- Annual Service Organizational Control (SOC) audits which vigorously test and validate our governance programs
- Quarterly enterprise risk management assessments
- Localized operational compliance and risk management in partnership with area and subject matter experts
- Continued financial investments in technology, process controls, and training
While we all have taken a hard look at our cost structures due to the economic impact of COVID-19, remember that good corporate governance programs bring real value to the table. Continued investment in, and attention to, compliance, privacy, and risk factors signal long-term commitments to clients by providing stability in the delivery of services and integrity in sourcing. When the storm passes and corporate governance becomes the hot topic again, will your company be ready to show their cards? Dwellworks will.
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