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Convercent CEO Encourage Employees to Speak Up on Ethics Issues

July 31, 2018 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated September 02, 2020 11:33 AM UTC

Convercent CEO Patrick Quinlan says companies can lead ethical transformations by ensuring employees have a voice.

[MUSIC PLAYING] Patrick, you talk a lot about values, relationships, emotion at your company Convercent. Why are these important issues in the compliance business? The reason that they're important in corporate America-- I would go broader than that-- is because the words that you just described, that's what customers want. That's what employees want from their companies. That's what customers want when they buy things. I think there's a great desire right now to have the companies of the world fill a larger role than just making money. What do you see as the mission of Convercent? And how is it adapting given all of the workplace changes we've seen because of the #MeToo movement? Our noble cause is to drive ethics to the center of business for a better world, and the way that we do that is by connecting ethical and business performance together. Our goal every day when we wake up is to provide our customers and the marketplace the opportunity to clearly see the ethical health of their organization, what's working and what's not, and where do they need to focus on. You must be getting so many requests from companies that need help now to come up with new training programs or new workplace rules. Given all the news reports in this post-Harvey Weinstein era and personal accounts about intimidation in the workplace, are you hearing a lot from new potential clients? We are. And certainly, the Weinstein scandal and sexual harassment began that conversation, but I think now that conversation has gotten much bigger to companies wanting to make sure that the position that they take in the marketplace, in society, the values that they talk about, that the behavior of their organization matches those values. Because where the court of public opinion comes in and holds them accountable is if they say one thing and do another. And so a lot of the interest is being driven by that larger question of, are words and our actions aligned? You were telling me that you think that many big Fortune 500 companies are leading this ethical transformation that is sort of underway in the country. Tell us what you mean. So over many of the last decades, the governments in different countries were really at the center of the conversation about, what does it mean to be in society? And I think over the last decade, regardless of the party, the government has stepped away from that conversation, not only in the United States, but in other countries, and that the companies and corporations have stepped into it. So we see Microsoft leading the conversation around immigration. We see Salesforce leading the conversation around LBGT issues. And more and more, Delta Airlines jumps in on the NRA. I think it's a fascinating moment where we're seeing companies become more than a collection of people, but we're beginning to see their hearts and we're beginning to see what they really believe in. Well, this whole topic of ethics is getting a lot more attention, and there are some corporate boards that are now talking about having a compliance officer on the boards. What do you think about that? Well, it's actually a trend that we have seen happen quite a bit, and many companies are now titling that the chief ethics officer. The chief integrity officer is a title we're seeing a lot. And in many instances, those individuals are reporting directly to the board, and they're actually having the opportunity to get time to meet with the board separate and apart from any executives in the company to really ensure that that information in what's happening inside the organization, the voices from the employees up is being communicated directly and clearly to the board. How are these trends impacting what you do at Convercent? Our mission is a very important one in making sure that our customers have the technology that they need to get great accurate data and to be able to communicate that data throughout the organization. When we started the company five years ago, we had a big belief that ethics were going to be an important part of the conversation moving forward. Certainly, that has been much louder and pleasantly sooner than we thought it was going to happen, and we're in the middle of a awesome conversation right now. And to have the biggest companies in the world use our company's data to manage and run their businesses is very exciting. We're seeing many CEOs these days speaking up on social and political issues that, just a few years ago, there's no way they would have spoken about them. A large part of your work deals with ethics issues. So do you believe it's important for you to weigh in on all of this? Absolutely. One of the most important parts of the conversation right now is, what is the organizational justice inside American and European companies? And that's an area that we have a great passion at Convercent is making sure that the employee voice is heard. And when it's not heard, we want to be a part of that conversation. So the way that we think we can impact the ethical transformation is by ensuring that the employees of our customers have many ways to speak up. And where I stand on this issue is that if a customer just wants to take this and put it in the closet and close the door and not let that voice come out, we will take a stand on that. And we want to make sure that the employees of our customers have the ability to share the truth. And when that truth isn't being told, we will be involved. One of the quotes on your website is, "We're driving ethics to the center of business for a better world." Describe your picture of that better world. A perfect world is a place where employees believe that their voice matters and that their voice is being heard. Our experience over the last 12 months is we had nearly 200,000 voices spoken inside our system that came from 138 countries, and 30% of those cases had to do with child slavery, sexual harassment, bribery, corruption. And to have that voice come through the organization is very powerful, and that's our mission and that's why we wake up every day.