On this episode of Integrity Through Compliance: AMI’s Business Success Series, you will be introduced to Jennifer Newton, CEO and Founder of the National Association of Black Compliance & Risk Management Professionals. Newton discusses the origin of the organization, which was founded in 2019. The non-profit association is dedicated to the professional development of African-American compliance and risk management professionals. Members of NABCRMP represent corporations, financial institutions, law firms, accountants, consulting firms, government agencies, trade associations, universities and non-profit organizations.
Brenda Morris 00:00:05
Hello, and welcome to Integrity Through Compliance: AMI’s Business Success Series. My name is Brenda Morris and I’m a managing director of corporate compliance and business oversight. This podcast was created by seasoned compliance experts at Affiliated Monitors to speak practically to your business needs. During this series you will hear from AMI’s experts in corporate compliance, healthcare, government contracts, antitrust, manufacturing, education, and more, who will provide their observations on industry trends, geared to raise your awareness and to protect your brand. So grab a cup of coffee and join us as we guide you and your business to integrity through compliance.
Hello, this is Brenda Morris, managing director at Affiliated Monitors on today’s podcast. We will introduce you to a new professional organization through its founder and CEO, Jennifer Newton. The organization is the National Association of Black Compliance and Risk Management Professionals. Before we introduce you to Jennifer, I like to first introduce you to my friend, my affiliated monitor colleague and today’s co-host Dionne Lomax.
Dionne Lomax 00:01:24
Sure. Brenda, thank you so much. You know, I have to say in full disclosure, Brenda and I have only been working together for a few short months, but we’re like best friends. We feel like we’ve been working together for forever, so she’s family! So it’s a pleasure doing this with you, Brenda. And so yes, I’m Dionne Lomax. I am AMI’s managing director of antitrust and trade regulation. And in this role I’m responsible for setting the overall strategy for client matters involving competition and trade regulation across a broad range of industries. And I’m delighted to have with us here — we are both delighted to have with us — Jennifer Newton. Jennifer Newton is the founder and CEO of the National Association of Black Compliance and Risk Management Professionals. And so Jennifer, I’ll kick it over to you to say a few words about yourself. Welcome.
Jennifer Newton 00:02:17
Thank you so much Dionne and Brenda, it’s such a pleasure to be with you all to talk a little bit about myself and also the great work we’re doing at the National Association of Black Compliance and Risk Management Professionals. So a little bit about myself, as you mentioned, Dionne, I am the CEO and founder of the National Association of Black Compliance and Risk Management Professionals. And so I know that that’s a very lengthy name, but we did want it to be all encompassing of the work that we do. So, but for everyone, we do have a short acronym that we like to use. We refer it to the organization as NABCRMP. So for the purpose of this discussion — I know saying the full organization name can be kind of wieldy — so going forward, we can say now from, that’s how I’ll refer to it. But essentially, I’m pleased to be the founder and the CEO of NABCRMP, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has been created with the sole focus to amplify and support the professional development of black professionals working in compliance and risk management. And I’m excited to be talking to you today about all of the work that we look to do and some of the work that we’ve been currently doing, and our understanding and our current outlook on how current events may impact that. So really excited to be here.
Brenda Morris 00:03:49
This is all exciting. I mean, both Dionne and I have a background from the Department of Justice. So of course leaving the Department of Justice and going out in the private sector. And in-house, uh, we are always kind of pegged in that compliance area, which I’m happy to own. I love compliance. I mean, of course our careers go beyond that. But compliance, I think, is one of those necessary components of any organization. Can you tell us a little bit about who the members are and what their backgrounds are?
Jennifer Newton 00:04:24
Sure. So in terms of members, we have individuals that essentially work in a variety of different industries, different business sectors, ranging from the financial services industry, health and life sciences, government. We have some individuals that work for nonprofits. And so the idea really was to create an organization that really encompassed the broad nature of compliance and how it does tend to be more so across industry fields, in which individuals who work in compliance and risk management may work in various different types of fields. And so our members, they encompass them, they reflect that. And so we have folks that work in banking, financial services…that work with financial institutions, that work for health organizations, that work for retail. And so it runs the gamut, because we know that working in compliance covers a variety of different industries and different sectors. And so that’s what the body of our membership reflects.
Brenda Morris 00:05:47
That’s wonderful. And do you have members that aren’t African-American, or other minorities?
Jennifer Newton 00:05:55
We do. We do. And that’s of the things that we set out to do because, you know, our organization is intended yes, to support and amplify the voices of black professionals that work in the compliance and risk management space. But to that endeavor, we know that it takes a village, right? And so we are welcoming and open to individuals, organizations that embody our mission, embody our goals, and see themselves as allies in that effort to obtain diversity and equity and inclusion. And so, we welcome individuals and organizations that are committed to those goals. And so, that would encompass, of course, individuals that may not necessarily be African-American, but who share the same ideals; who share the same values as the organization. So, it is not limited to solely just African-Americans or Black people working in compliance and risk.
Dionne Lomax 00:06:53
So, Jennifer, you mentioned the mission of NABCRMP. And having spearheaded diversity and equity initiatives myself in the private sector, I am reminded that one of the questions that’s often asked when one is engaged in spearheading diversity or equity initiatives of any kind often is: “Okay, well, why is this important? And what’s the business case for this?” And so in the world of compliance, I mean, what do you think is the business case for diversity in the compliance space?
Jennifer Newton 00:07:25
Well, my perspective, you know, I think compliance plays a unique role in organizations as sort of the gatekeeper for managing risk throughout the organization, or the enterprise. And from my perspective, since organizations understand and fully grasp risk, whether we’re talking about regulatory risk, whether we’re talking about financial risk, it’s something that a lot of organizations typically grasp and they understand very well. And one of the things that I think organizations have not been that great at in the past, is understanding the risk that’s posed from a lack of diversity and inclusion, internally and externally, to the organization. And so, as the gatekeepers and the stewards of managing risk in the organization, my personal view is that compliance professionals have an obligation to manage all aspects of risks, including risks that presents itself from the lack of diversity and inclusion in the organization, and externally.
And so, I think that compliance professionals and those who work in the risk space have a unique vantage point. And in that role, in being the managers of risk, our goal, our jobs are to identify risk and in all of its forms. And that could be risk that comes from failure to create a diverse and inclusive space for your employees; one that reflects what your customers or your clients are looking for, and that does pose risk to the organization. And it no longer should be seen as a human resource issue. And I think that’s sort of been played out in a lot of events that have transpired, you know, last year, and just throughout the years.
But because of the potential impact that the failure to create a diverse and inclusive space has, or could have, on the enterprise — on the companies — that’s what makes it a business issue; that compliance should be involved in making sure to address and to create systems and frameworks that manage the risk that’s posed from a failure to create diverse and inclusive spaces. And so, we have this mantra that you’ll see embedded throughout a lot of the work that we do, but we essentially believe to our core that diversity and inclusion are essential aspects to risk governance. And that’s because we see diversity inclusion as being a central to making sure that organizations are managing risk in all of their forms, including the risk that comes from failing to have diversity and inclusion embedded throughout the organization. So I’ll stop there. And I don’t know if you guys want to talk a little bit more about that, but happy to delve in that a little bit further.
Brenda Morris 00:10:26
Well, we’re really excited about this subject, not only because of Dionne’s background, and my background, being former prosecutors with DOJ, but also to the fact that we now find ourselves as colleagues at Affiliated Monitors. And Affiliated Monitors is one of the few companies that’s out there that actually is in that compliance space. I mean, it’s one of those things that we agree totally with you: that compliance is an ongoing effort. And it’s something that if your clients, if the organization is proactive about, the statistics, the surveys all prove that you have a better, healthier company, as well as folks who want to come to work. They know that their organization is responsible. Also too, there’s the enforcement action. And that’s often times where AMI comes into play when a company or organization, or an individual, (a doctor, a pharmacist, anyone who has a license) has found themselves in trouble, and the government has come on board to say, “we’ve got to rectify this, or you may lose your license”. You may suffer criminal penalties as well as civil penalties. So, AMI comes in, and what we do is remediate the issue for enforcement. We also act in a proactive manner for companies that understand the importance of compliance, and they want to do that due diligence proactively. So, especially now, where ESG is so important, and you hear that coming out of every boardroom, you hear that as part of the objectives from all these in-house organizations: environmental, social, and governance is, you know, the buzzword for right now. But I’d like to hear a little more too, from you, Jennifer, where compliance is a continuum, it’s not just what’s hot today, or what, as you said, what’s in the personnel or HR office. This is something that actually is a holistic approach to companies and it’s for their good. Could you talk a little bit about those benefits?
Jennifer Newton 00:12:30
Absolutely. You know, when we talk about compliance, and that’s one of the great things about our organization, is that it sort of encompasses all aspects of compliance and the various roles that individuals play throughout the life cycle, I guess, of compliance and risk. And, when we talk about the purpose of compliance, essentially it’s tied to how an organization manages their risks. And in organizations, at least large organizations, do a good job at identifying what those risks are. So they use organizations like yours to identify what some of those risks could be, whether it’s regulatory risks, financial risks…if you are a financial institution, you may have liquidity risk. The full gamut of different issues could eventually create problems for the organization. And it’s the potential impact that the failure to mitigate those risks could have on the organization…to me, is what makes it a business issue that requires compliance to be important for organizations to take some initiatives, some efforts, to create a compliance management program. Because the failure to do so — the failure to mitigate risks — creates potential issues that could show up in, you know, reputation, in financial impacts, in regulatory and legal sanctions. So in essence, that’s the business case for the management of compliance within your organization. And so, it’s great to have organizations like yours that are working with organizations to see the value in making sure that there’s a framework to manage regulatory requirements, to be responsive to regulators. Because the failure to do so can create significant, and systemic negative impact on organizations. So, absolutely there’s a business case for compliance in general.
Brenda Morris 00:14:33
And compliance, I think you hit on this too, it takes all forms. To be a compliance expert, you really have to be a jack of all trades. You really have to be a utility player, because an issue in compliance doesn’t come in a nice little package, and it’s always from the finance side, or it’s always from your third parties. It comes in so many different varieties. So you have to be open. And I think the diversity of thought that diverse individuals bring, just in your life experiences too, add so much depth to any organization that’s really open to acknowledging and wanting to be better. Because like you said, integrity…the integrity of an organization…once you have a tarnish or a stain on that, your brand is affected, sometimes forever. And if not forever, for a very long time. And if the government gets involved, you’re lucky if you’re just paying a penalty. So, it’s so advantageous to think about it on the front end, than rather pay for it on the back end.
Jennifer Newton 00:15:38
Yeah, absolutely. And you see that playing out with organizations who find themselves in very sticky, sticky situations, where they weren’t always that great at identifying potential risks, or chose to ignore a potential risk. And the result has been, you know, a tarnishing of their brand. Or, you know, they suffered a reputation hit. And the reputation hit, you know…what organizations need to understand: that actually brings regulatory scrutiny!
Dionne Lomax 00:16:13
That’s absolutely right. The other thing: it brings regulatory scrutiny, but also, you think about tarnishing the brand. That brand tarnishment, because of social media, can last forever, right? It’s something that a company may not be able to recover from, depending on how bad, or how egregious the issue is.
Brenda Morris 00:16:33
And you don’t want your shareholders to lose faith in you. I mean, that’s what really happens. If shareholders start losing faith in a company, you know, that’s a death knell.
Jennifer Newton 00:16:43
Absolutely. And I tend to chuckle when I think about how the paradigm has sort of changed throughout the years, and how now, more so, customers and clients…they don’t allow you to forget, either. And so the change in the client base has affected how organizations need to sort of manage their reputation a lot better, because it does pose potential risk. And when you look at it, how customers patronize, or chose to patronize businesses in the past, historically…the prior generation before this, (this new millennial and generation Z’ers) were more focused on, you know, the cost efficiency, the value proposition of what organizations are providing, and just the very basic business traits, you know, that corresponded well with the product that you’re getting.
But now it seems that, you know, this new generation, the way that they decide whether to patronize organizations is tied a little bit to some of those factors that historically we’ve seen in the past, but a lot of it aligns with how well the organization aligns itself with their core values. And so this generation, and I think it has to do with their access to information, (due to technology) what’s important for them is now so intertwined into values, and what’s important to them. So they will research in organizations to see how the organization treats its employees. What is the…how does the organization view environmental friendly policies? So, those are the things that sort of are really driving demand. And so organizations that fall on the wrong side of some of those values that clients, and customers, and the public are now demanding, can face some severe reputation tarnishing. And so that’s what’s been interesting is to see how this change in the kinds of clients, and the customers, and what’s important to them has sort of changed the way that the organizations now market themselves and brand themselves…whether it’s a socially conscious organization, or whether it’s the organization that is consistently looking to align itself with values that correspond with their customers. But now, so much, the failure to do that can pose some severe risks. And that’s one of the things that it’s been interesting: to see how pressure from customers, from the public, can change what an organization does, and it may not have anything to do with the actual product that they’re serving. It may just have to do with the practices that the organization embodies and engages in. So that’s been interesting to see, I just want him to sort of mention that.
Brenda Morris 00:19:40
So let’s toot the horn of your organization for a minute. Now, NABCRMP is a pretty young organization, but you’ve gotten some pretty heavy sponsorship: Target and Amazon?
Jennifer Newton 00:19:53
Yeah. Yeah. So that’s been exciting to see. So, a little bit of background: the organization was founded initially as a LinkedIn group in 2019. And so, we just had an online presence and it was open to individuals that wanted to share resources related to compliance and risk management. And then in August of last year, we launched it as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. And the decision to do that actually centered around a lot of the impetus that we were seeing relating to some of the events that had transpired: George Floyd, and organizations’ commitments to supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives, and rallying around Black Lives Matter. And so we thought it would be a great time, better than never, to launch as an organization where we can corral the resources, and leverage off of the efforts that organizations were committing themselves to; to try to create an organization that would be really focused on providing value to Black compliance and risk management professionals. And so, it seems that we were right on target, right on point with that, because it has taken off since then. So now we have about like 100 individual members, and then we have now just gained two corporate sponsors, and Amazon is one. We’re very excited to welcome Amazon as a corporate sponsor, but also Target. Target joined as a corporate sponsor. And what that says to us is that these organizations are showing themselves to be committed to supporting and amplifying the voice and the work of organizations that are seeking to create diverse and inclusive spaces for employees and individuals. So we’re excited that it’s taken off, and we’ve developed some momentum and look forward to growing even larger.
Brenda Morris 00:21:55
It is so timely. I mean, now we have a new administration coming on board, with Biden and Harris.(And I will throw in a plug here that both Dionne and I are Howard U grads, whoop whoop!) You know, anyway…so we are very happy to see Kamala Harris get in there, and have one of our alum in the white house. So that’s a very exciting thing. Now in wrapping up, could you please tell us how the Biden administration…what you see different from the Trump administration?
Jennifer Newton 00:22:30
You know, and I’ll just say this because, you know, we are a bipartisan-focused organization, and we are in that regard. You know, we’re open to both, you know, to the prior administration as well, and look forward to supporting this administration and their efforts. The main thing that we see of course is — at least from what we can tell from prior commitments made on the campaign trail — is that at least this administration is seeking to create a much more inclusive and equitable, I guess, cabinet and decision-making process. And that’s important because, you know, as we know, people expect there to be representation that reflects the communities that they serve. And so out the gate, we are — or have been — pleased to see that the Biden and Harris administration is making a solid effort at making sure that the cabinet and the leadership, those who are at the helm of leadership, reflect the demographics and the diversity of America. And that’s important, because people want to…they can’t be what they can’t see! And it’s important for there to be representation that reflects the vast racial and ethnic and religious differences that we see embedded throughout America.
And so, we’ve been pleased to see that, (not to say that the Trump administration hasn’t made many strides in that regard) but we’ve seen at least, those commitments play out immediately with some of the new appointments. So we’re very excited. And then also…so one of the things that we were a little bit concerned about and, disappointed with the prior administration had to do with that..it was an executive order that was issued by the Trump administration that seems to be focused on either canceling those contractual agreements with organizations that advanced, or supported, the idea of systemic racism. And so from, I believe, from the prior administration’s perspective is that those principles, potentially from their vantage point, didn’t necessarily have merit. And we could go on and on about why they found that there, but that was concerning, because of course there are organizations that do a lot of contractual work with the federal government. So, even if you are not a federal agency, you would be impacted if you are a private organization that does diversity consulting, or provides training to any facet of a federal government agency. And the training, you know, provides, you know, any insight, or the foundation is based on systemic racism theories, you would be impacted.
And so what it required some of these agencies to do is to go back in their contracts and review the potential organizations and the work that they’re doing to make sure that none of the organizations are doing work that supports that theory. And that’s problematic, because most organizations start with the concept of, you know, there’s systemic racism in America, and you know, that’s kind of what informs the work…why there are diversity and inclusion efforts needed. So that was intended to affect a lot of the organizations and a lot of the diversity and inclusion work. So we were pleased to see that with this coming administration, they have indicated that they’re looking to rescind that executive order. And we know that there’s litigation. We know the NAACP also filed a lawsuit to challenge the executive order. So, that’s important because, you know, we’ve made a lot of strides in 2020. You know, it’s unfortunate; a lot of the events that happened with you know, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor…but the one thing that’s been positive out of those events has been the commitments, and the work, and the conversations that have been had about diversity and inclusion.
Jennifer Newton 00:26:59
And so organizations have now decided to really do some work internally ,and even externally, working with groups that are organized around these issues to try to create much more diverse, and inclusive, and equitable workspaces. And so we don’t want to see that work go away. We don’t want that to just only be a moment. We want that work to continue on. And so, to have an administration that sees the value in that is important to us, and I’m sure, to folks that are working in this space. And so we were very pleased to see that that’s a priority for the administration, and that they are going to be committed to ensuring that they are supporting organizations/corporations that are promoting diversity and inclusion as a principal. And, you know, so we’re excited about that.
Brenda Morris 00:27:57
Well, we’re excited to have you as a guest, and we are excited about this organization. In 2021, There shouldn’t be any excuse from any organization when they say, you know, “how do we find diverse talent?” I mean, we’re out here. And we’re willing and able, with vast experience — diverse experience — not just by the color of our skin. So we thank you for being part of our expert podcast. And just in closing really quickly, how would organizations get in touch with you? What is the best way?
Jennifer Newton 00:28:32
Sure. So, we have a website, www.nabcrmp.org, where organizations can find information about what we do, our mission, our values, and wha we’re seeking to do as an organization. Also, they can feel free to connect with us on all of the social media platforms. We’re on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Twitter. So we’re all over. And also, they can email me as well. I’m happy to provide my email address. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org. So, no thank you so much, Brenda and Dionne for providing us with a platform to talk about what it is that we do, and the work, because we really truly believe that it’s important, and hope that we can continue these discussions going forward, so that we can really create transformative change in our day-to-day.
Brenda Morris 00:29:32
Well, we, again, are excited to have you, and this has been wonderful to get to know you and your organization. We will also have your contact information on our podcast page at AMI affiliates. We will make sure that, you know, we will keep the word out and we will definitely have you back again.
Dionne Lomax 00:29:52
Oh, yes. We look forward to working with NABCRMP, and with you Jennifer, in the future. Thank you.
Jennifer Newton 00:29:58
No, Thank you. Thank you very much.
Brenda Morris 00:30:01
Thank you for joining Affiliated Monitors’ podcast, Integrity Through Compliance: AMI’s Business Success Series. Today’s segment is just a sample of the subject matter expertise captured by AMI’s compliance professionals. Go to our website at www.affiliatedmonitors.com to view the comprehensive list of industry and in-house talent AMI has available to enhance professional and business integrity programs and controls. Also, connect with us on LinkedIn to receive updates and trends in the areas of enforcement and compliance. If you have any questions about today’s podcast or would like to learn more, please contact us at email@example.com. Our Affiliated Monitors podcast production team of Deloris Saad, our compliance associate, Dan Barton, our editor and podcast music composer, and me, Brenda Morris, Managing Director for Compliance and Business Oversight look forward to you joining us again for our next installment of Integrity Through Compliance: AMI’s Business Success Series.