Tone at the Top is Key to Successful Export Compliance Program

A crucial and often ignored element of an export compliance program is buy-in from senior management.

Top Executives must:

  1. Literally set a tone at the top of management that exemplifies the importance of export compliance to each executive and the company as a whole. You can do this with a policy statement, posters in the shipping room, and on the company’s intranet site to draw attention to the issue and highlight the compliance program. Treat it like safety issues and ethical obligations.  Non-negotiable.
  2. Discuss export compliance with your Board of Directors, receptionists, sales force, and shipping/logistics departments, in other words – everyone in the company.  Management’s subjective intent establishes the tone of compliance.  It also will become a serious mitigating factor with the U.S. government and can reduce any penalties if a violation does occur.
  3. Be examples of what is expected – follow export compliance procedures and discuss with others in the company to ensure that the written procedures fit into existing processes and are usable.
  4. Ensure that all procedures and policies reflect the tone at the top and management’s commitment.  Use Board minutes and formal letters to employees to show this commitment.
  5. Create a dialogue within all departments and at all levels of the company so you are not blindsided by lack of knowledge. Discuss how red flags arise in your business and how they are addressed within the different levels of your company.
  6. Learn the civil and criminal penalties for company violations that could result in individual jail time if you ignore export compliance obligations.
  7. Finally, be visible and actually engaged in export compliance training.  Stimulate serious practical discussions that involve your company’s ongoing sales procedures.  Train everyone.