Becoming expert in compliance takes time. That's why we all stand on the shoulders of some great minds in the GRC community.
We've curated a list of ten of the best GRC books to read in 2021. Given the importance of compliance in the modern workplace, managers in all departments, not just those in compliance or HR, can benefit from reading these titles.
These titles were chosen not only because of their expert advice but also readability and practicability. They inspired us and will inspire you.
1. Governance, Risk Management & Compliance
Steinberg takes the stance that managing risk should not be about focusing on what has happened, or about the problems that need to be dealt with. Instead, the potential issues that can arise and how to be proactive in risk management, reminding the reader that the actions of senior management play a far more crucial role in driving company culture.
He outlines how senior executives can incorporate the necessary organisation, processes and technology to accomplish their goals. And how successful CEOs and directors shape, lead and oversee their organisations to achieve these goals.
Richard Steinberg - adviser to major boards and CEOs, and author of many other publications about Corporate Governance - helps you to understand the critical infrastructure of the driving force of every organisation. Reading this book, you’ll learn the factors that must go right in order to prevent major pitfalls and how to seize the right opportunities for continued business success.
The book examines how and why major companies have failed, while others have prospered. Steinberg highlights the critical success factors for processes in compliance, ethics and risk management, as well as exploring the role of the board. How it can oversee this corporate strategy, CEO compensation, succession planning, crisis management, performance measurement, board composition and even shareholder communications.
In addition to business practicalities, Steinberg provides an imperative outlook on how these things can only be achieved through the alignment of culture, strategy, compliance programs and other benefits such as compensation.
The myth that governance, risk management and compliance are insignificant factors in the depths of an organisation is debunked. In actual fact, it is the success of these activities that play towards the overall wins in the marketplace, making examples of high-profile failings of large financial institutions, large oil companies and real estate to prove the point in case.
2. How to Pay a Bribe
Alexandra Addison Wrage | Reviews: Amazon | Good Reads
Designed to inspire and educate seasoned compliance experts and those new to the field. Each chapter offers advice and guidance while remaining an immensely engaging read.
Bribery is a way that some do business, and when that becomes the culture of a business, it can be very difficult to change. This book explores how some companies lend themselves to a lax attitude that allows obtuse and potentially improper business transactions to occur.
In this book, Alexandra Addison Wrage and other anti-corruption experts guide the reader through various international bribery schemes across the USA, Europe, Africa and Asia.
Wrage recounts imaginative schemes in which charitable contributions are used as a vessel to pass bribes to corrupt officials. She provides best practice recommendations for companies to avoid corruption when dealing with government officials and other international markets.
This collection of works by authors, journalists, prosecutors and bribery experts from around the globe revisits the secretive world of backroom dealings of bribery and corruption. Looking behind the newspaper headlines and government investigations, this is a collection of true-life stories of what tempts people down the crooked path of bribery.
It explores the lengths people will go to in order to secure business deals from offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands to the setting up of fake charities in Eastern Europe.
Those working in high-risk jurisdictions who need to be trained can use the book to understand the ways in which they may be at risk of corruption. Compliance professionals can use it to become more effective in their role.
It identifies potential bribery traps for the unaware, highlighting the methods used by people to disguise for payments from colleagues and supervisors.
This fascinating book brings a new perspective to corporate bribery and corruption through the lens of corporate compliance and strategy.
It is the result of extensive interviews with lawyers, academics, and senior law enforcement figures to create a book jam-packed with insightful analysis. From common business challenges and stories of bribes that got exposed to examples of how unscrupulous individuals devised unique bribery schemes.
If you're curious just how on earth the corporate world has reached such a point, then this book's well-written introduction has you covered, as it gives a detailed overview of the UK's legal regime, whilst putting the current global crackdown into perspective.
A section of particular interest for compliance officers is Part III, which deals with corporate responses to the risk of bribery and corruption.
Corruption also highlights geographical regions at particular risk, as well as high risk sectors, such as construction, healthcare, defence, and telecommunications.
Be warned though, while making your way through this book, you may begin to get a sneaking suspicion that no industry is actually free of bribery and corruption!
4. How to Be a Wildly Effective Compliance Officer
Having an understanding of people and managing complex situations is imperative in practising successful compliance.
This book helps compliance practitioners to move away from a tick-box mentality, into becoming a dynamic business leader with personality and professionalism (something often seen as a missing from the profession). This chatty and informative guide reminds professionals of the importance of fostering natural and organic relationships within teams in order the generate success.
It aims to be a motivating and educational tool, not just for Compliance professionals, but also for those working in HR and operational risk. Managers who would like to learn to communicate with peers more effectively in a compliance-driven organisation could benefit from this book too. It explores the management and drivers of different personality types - how to be appealing to their individual needs and desires in order to gain ‘buy-in’ from businesses for new ideas.
As well as merging concepts of professionalism and personality, Grant-Hart reminds her readers that is is important to manage challenges such as handling criticism, overcoming dips in motivation, and what to do when feeling defeated- drawing on these experiences as opportunities for growth, looking into finding passion and enjoyment within the sector again.
Described as ‘easy to read, humorous and highly entertaining’, it bridges the gap between business and personality - providing the missing link between knowing what needs to be done, and getting it done, drawing on the author's wealth of experience, providing real-life practical tips for personal growth, as well as growing a successful career in compliance.
Grant-Hart's inspiring, innovative and honest approach allows her ideas to be easily adapted to improve compliance programs across the globe.
Not only does this book discuss the process of compliance management, but it also explores how a dynamic business leader can shape best practice. It sheds light on how an individual business leader can and should act to have any form of influence which can ensure successful compliance management.
To be ‘Wildly Effective’ - Don’t walk, Start Running - is the message that Grant-Hart wants compliance officers, leaders and students of both of these areas alike to take away.
5. Anti-Money Laundering in a Nutshell
A highly accessible practical guide for anyone trying to grasp the fundamental principles behind anti-money laundering law.
Money laundering is global problem, with close to 5% of the world's GDP being annually laundered by criminals. It’s little wonder that every financial institution in the UK is required to comply with complex legal and regulatory requirements in order to reduce the amount of money laundering that takes place each year.
Ignorance of crime is no excuse in the eyes of the law. In fact, financial institutions and firms that unwittingly facilitate money laundering are no less liable to fines and prosecution than those who launder money wilfully.
This concise read is suitable for managers, financial professionals, corporate investigators, and any employees of financial firms who are required by law to receive anti-money laundering training.
In Anti-Money Laundering in a Nutshell, Kevin Sullivan uses his extensive experience as an anti-money laundering agent and consultant to explain every conceivable aspect of money laundering detection and prevention in layman's terms.
Sullivan traces the complex relationships between employees, compliance officers, regulatory examiners, criminal investigators, and prosecutors in following up on reports, catching criminals, and protecting the reputations of financial institutions and firms.
6. 101 Costly HR Mistakes
Workplace lawsuits are on the rise, and Employment litigation has increased by 2000% since 1995. After consulting with thousands of employers, Nelson observed a pattern of costly HR mistakes that had led to costly lawsuits, high staff turnaround, compliance fines and profits falling profits as a result of damaged reputations.
Vanessa became passionate about protecting and improving teams. This book brings together a comprehensive list of issues - some critical, some minor - but all that have the potential to upset the culture of compliance you want to establish in your organisation.
Compliance fines can be extremely expensive and cause significant reputational damage, so it is crucial that you know for employers to know how to avoid these costly mistakes and protect their organisation from risk.
Understandably, most employers do not set out to violate these regulations, but even small missteps can escalate quickly into a very big mistake. 101 Costly HR Mistakes points out the top errors made by employers and how to avoid high-priced compliance fees and penalties.
Nelson talks about it being common practice for employers to use interview panels comprised of existing employees. Often there is little or no training for these employees regarding interviewing, and hence a lack of knowledge and understanding about the legality (or lack thereof) of the questions asked.
Employers may assign the task of interviewing potential candidates without considering what could happen as a result of them asking a costly, illegal question. These types of questions are those that ‘cross the line’ asking personal questions about the candidate’s protected characteristics, such as their age, gender, or sexuality and can be as simple as 'Where were you born' or 'What year did you graduate'.
To avoid potentially costly questions being asked, employees should be trained to only ask job-related questions. Nelson details many illegal questions she has heard asked and explains how they fail to comply with the law.
Not only covering many of the most important aspects of compliance in the HR world, but this book also examines Health and Safety regulation information that is available in a simplified way that makes complex material easy to understand. Designed to advise novice and experienced HR and compliance professionals, this book acts as a guide to fixing problems before they arise in a matter-of-fact anecdotal way. Follow Vanessa on the Twitter handle Expert HR Consultants.
7. Explaining Compliance
A unique take on how different kinds of businesses respond to ever-changing laws and regulations.
This book is made up of 16 chapters, each written by one of the world's leading empirical researchers. Each researcher is tasked with examining how and whether firms choose to comply with various regulations and laws.
At the end of each chapter, you'll find a reflective summary of business compliance with different laws, as well as theoretical and practical examples to be learnt from.
What's more, Explaining Compliance also reveals the downright complexity in the transformation of new regulations as they are interpreted, implemented and negotiated by companies and their stakeholders.
Overall, Explaining Compliance helps readers come to an understanding of common reasons behind why certain firms choose to regularly comply with regulations, while others tend to avoid doing so, either subtly or overtly.
8. Best Practices Under the FCPA & Bribery Act
A strong compliance program reduces the risk of fines, penalties and damage to reputation. But we also know that it does not eliminate that risk. Compliance takes strict rules that can be interpreted loosely and creates a structure designed to reduce the risk created by the biggest variable – people.
Risk management is an essential part of compliance, especially for the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) or the United Kingdom’s Bribery Act. With these acts, it’s possible to follow the letter of the law as pertaining a statute and still find yourself in violation.
Fox’s background as a former corporate counsel provides a unique insight into FCPA compliance. What makes the book stand out is the use of real-life examples that show the enforcement theories of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Understanding those theories is key to manage and minimise risk. It also frames a complex subject in an engaging and impactful manner.
A deliberate and effective choice was made to structure the book similarly to “A Resource Guide to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” which was published by the DOJ and the SEC.
Beyond the building blocks, the author provides an analysis of how to combine these essential building blocks to craft a compliance program that suits an organisation’s needs. The book also features several of his articles on the topic, including “Six Principles of Adequate Procedures Compliance Regime Under the UK Bribery Act.”
With no shortage of books available on the subject of compliance, many try to stand out by leveraging compliance standards to drive organisational culture. Some go as far as to use compliance as a driver for morale and a way to instil a sense of job satisfaction in an employee. There’s nothing wrong with that. It is an idea that is most valuable in areas where the laws and their interpretation is less opaque, the fines less severe.
But in this field, clarity backed by case studies are what makes for the most effective compliance program possible. That is what this book both offers and delivers.
You can also follow him on @tfoxlaw or listen to his podcasts.
9. The Business Guide to Effective Compliance & Ethics
Often compliance and ethics are seen as a very strict list of rules and requirements, making people afraid to step out of line, rather than encouraging their buy-in. This book challenges this industry norm, painting it as the reason why compliance is a broken concept within the industry.
It is effective in that paves the path for clear documentation and defensible actions for companies who wish to stay insulated from any potential legal vulnerabilities created by employees. Focusing on the what and how without explaining the why creates an emotional disconnect and uninspired employees who will be more prone to burn out.
The book explains how to engage employees in a way that motivates them while continuing to reduce the risk of penalties and damage to reputation.
When creating rules and regulations, the human factor may be overlooked. But the human factor is the key to a strong compliance and ethics programme. It’s not just finding employees willing to toe the line, but connecting with them so that they champion company values.
Engaged employees are more likely to be proud and zealous in the upholding of company values to which they are aligned. In short, a positive approach brings better results than using fear.
Executed properly, a compliance and ethics program turns employees into stakeholders. This values-based culture of shared ownership can transform an organisation.
And it’s not just about sharing positive vibes. Compliance and ethics are an opportunity to provide clear expectations, making it easier for employees to understand how success is measured. Empowering decision-makers to have honest, non-confrontational feedback intended to help employees grow.
The power of clear expectations channelled toward positive growth makes feedback something to longed for rather than feared. This book lays the foundation for this approach.
Rules can help shape expectations, but it’s organisational culture that brings effectiveness. “The Business Guide to Effective Compliance and Ethics” understands the delicate balance that must be struck here and provides a clear path to help achieved it.
10. Fully Compliant
Compliance training can only ever hope to be successful if you balance the needs of the employees with those of the firm.
In this informative read, Travis Waugh powerfully challenges traditional compliance training programmes in a number of thought-provoking ways.
With a seemingly never-ending list of compliance issues to be addressed, Waugh argues that firms need to choose training programmes which serve higher and broader purposes, with the ultimate goal of building a resilient workplace culture with a focus on integrity and ethics.
Fully Complaint makes the case that the ideal compliance training programmes need to be both practical and flexible in order to change employee behaviour, and thereby reducing the chance of misconduct ever happening in the first place.
Waugh uses his writing to connect the three levers of human behaviour - context, habits, and motivation - to business compliance, demonstrating how all three can be used simultaneously to create a holistic learning environment.
Throughout Fully Compliant, Waugh points out ways to pick up small but meaningful wins in rethinking an existing compliance training programme or designing new courses, which can turn stakeholders from sceptics into champions of learning.
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