While countries around the world are struggling to recover from the health and economic impacts of the pandemic, some companies are making combating corruption a key recovery priority. At the same time, increasing numbers of executive and compliance professionals are making anti-corruption compliance training part of their solution to COVID-related challenges.
“We’ve seen a big increase in interest,” said Oleksandr Okunev, Management Board Chairman of the Ukrainian Corporate Governance Professional Association (CGPA). “The period of…quarantine became a period of searching for new opportunities for various [compliance] specialists.”
Based in Kyiv, Ukraine, CGPA trains compliance officers and provides corporate governance support to businesses. A long-time partner of the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), CGPA is also the only organization in Ukraine that conducts five-day trainings for compliance officers several times a year.
Some observers have been concerned that companies would focus on survival and pay less attention to business ethics during economic hard times. Yet CGPA has proved that survival and business ethics go hand-in-hand and that many organizations are more interested in compliance than ever.
Like many other organizations, CGPA was affected by COVID-19 and had to adapt to the new norm by moving much of their training online. CGPA quickly got to work making trainings available so participants stuck in quarantine could still attend. By June, CGPA had adopted a hybrid teaching method.
“Recognizing that not all our participants could attend the in-person training, we changed the program format by conducting the trainings both in-person and online at the same time,” Okunev said.
What CGPA didn’t expect was a big increase in subsequent attendance. CGPA’s Compliance Officer Training program from July 27th-31st saw a 60 percent increase in attendance compared to the in-person training held in November 2019.
Okunev said more than the pandemic is behind these surging numbers. “In early to mid-2020, several large Ukrainian companies began listing vacancies for a large number of new compliance officers. A certificate of completion of CGPA’s training course fulfilled one of the application requirements for these positions,” Okunev said.
The high interest in these trainings came as a welcome development to CGPA organizers, and they noted that many participants who attended trainings reported doing so due to recommendations from colleagues.
“The whole program was held at the highest level.”, said Alexander Stupak, the First Deputy Head of the Commissioner for the implementation of the anti-corruption program of JSC PRIVATBANK.
“Impressions from the program were very positive,” said Inna Mikhailyuk, Economic Security Specialist at the state-owned Printing Plant, and added “the training program was interesting and effective.”
“At the end all of our participants passed their final tests and received their certificates,” Okunev added.
By swiftly responding to participants’ interest, CGPA was able to capitalize on a situation that otherwise may have compromised the training’s turnout and effectiveness. With the success of this hybrid training evident, CGPA is planning on conducting more hybrid courses in the future. As new work-from-home routines are established and more companies find benefits in reduced employee travel, hybrid trainings like those run by CGPA are likely to become more popular.
During this difficult year, CGPA’s experience provides a glimpse of the opportunities that can be found alongside the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Equally important, rising interest in CGPA’s compliance certifications shows that pursuing integrity during the crisis is not in vain. Despite lockdowns, economic downturn, and uncertainty, more Ukrainian companies than ever are choosing to raise the bar.
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