Benchmarking is a frequent topic in the compliance and ethics space. It is essential to evaluate any compliance and ethics program, and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) expects it. However, before jumping into a benchmarking exercise, we advise our clients to consider their goals and the best way to achieve them. Ultimately, there are benefits to benchmarking a program from both a quantitative and a qualitative view.

It's helpful to occasionally use information from surveys and other quantitative tools to compare your program's structure, size, budget, and responsibilities to other companies of like size, industry, and geographic footprint. Knowing how your program stacks up against other companies can give you a general idea of how your program might appear to regulators, including the DOJ. Generally, you don’t want your program to lag behind other, similarly situated organizations. In addition, your management team will likely want to know how your program compares to other organizations’ programs as they make resource decisions.

That said, benchmarking surveys do not provide you with actionable ideas to improve your program’s effectiveness. Learning that other companies conduct surveys of employees or have compliance ambassadors can be good to consider. However, it takes a qualitative approach to understand how to efficiently and effectively implement new ideas at your organization. You need a deeper conversation. Attending conferences where you can discuss tactics with your peers, engaging experts to provide practical suggestions given your organization’s particularities, and reaching out to other organizations to hear what they have done are all valuable ways to gain new ideas. You’ll also benefit from tips about what works and how to avoid pitfalls.

There is no question that you need qualitative benchmarking as part of the ongoing management of your compliance and ethics program – in fact, we’d very much appreciate it if you would take the time to complete Rethink’s 2023 benchmarking survey! Remember, however, that both quantitative and qualitative benchmarking have their uses. Think about what you are trying to accomplish and what you are hoping to do with the information. Answering those questions will help you decide what type of benchmarking will be most helpful for your team.