The "C" word

I really dislike the word "compliance". That may sound a bit odd given that compliance is a large part of my role as a General Counsel. But, to me it's an oppressive word. Who wants to be told that they have to behave in a certain way? And, having to constantly remind employees of their obligations and of the importance of compliance – well, let's just say it's one of those incredibly important, but thankless jobs. So, you can imagine my excitement, when after a particularly exhausting week, I noticed that the last meeting on my Friday calendar was the filming of a Sun corporate compliance video. As I walked to the location, I thought of the 100 other things that I would prefer to be doing at that moment including my tax returns, giving my fidgety son a haircut and commuting in rush hour traffic.

When I arrived at the conference room, no one seemed to have any idea of what we were to talk about as the director of the video intended for it to be completely unstructured - his attempt at corporate "reality TV". Just a few Sun executives discussing compliance while hand-held video cameras captured the conversation. For the next ten minutes, my fellow participants and I struggled to identify the points we thought we should cover. But, none of us were particularly excited. Finally, Jonathan asked a single question: “why is compliance important to Sun?”

It was the only question asked. And, well over an hour later, we finally stopped talking.

Our conversation was wide ranging and passionate with personal examples of why compliance is so significant to each of us. Despite my initial lack of enthusiasm, I came away from the session feeling energized by the fact that we all viewed compliance the same way. Not as something you do to avoid negative consequences (loss of employment, criminal penalties and fines). But, instead, because you want to behave in a way that reflects the values of your community. In our case it's a global community of more than 30,000 people wearing one of these.

Anyway, below is the link for the final video. I had hoped to include just the uncut version and have you listen to the entire conversation. But being that it was more than an hour in length, I didn't kid myself into thinking that I could hold your attention that long -- you can thank me later. The people in the conference room with me are Jonathan, Cheryl Fackler Hug, our Chief Compliance (there's that word) Officer and Bill MacGowan EVP of People and Places (the gentleman who sounds like Tom Waits). It also incorporates additional segments with other Sun executives and board members.

Watch the video

Comments:

Hi Mike,
I'm interested in watching the video. Unfortunately I am one of those non-mainstream OS users. So there is no proper Flash-player available for me. Also the content of the MP4-download is not playable on my system. Perhaps SUN could offer a OGG-/Theora-version of your videos as well?
These would be more open formats, consumable by more people around the world.

Thanks for thinking about that :-)

Posted by Tobias on April 02, 2008 at 11:16 PM PDT #

As a compliance officer in a large corporation, I agree that approaching the business with a spirit of partnership rather than as an "internal affairs cop," or "the group that always says no," is crucial to success.

I especially liked your line, when told that a competitor does something, "well, that's why I work \*here\*." Warren Buffett was quoted as saying, "The five most dangerous words in business are 'everybody else is doing it.'" He was---as usual---exactly right. Compliance is all about who you want to be as a company.

Did you ever see a transcript of Doug Bain's speech to the Boeing senior management? This is exactly what he talked about. You should definitely read it. If you don't have it, I can send it to you.

We're good people in "Compliance." You should learn to love the word.

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