Last week, my teammate Pooja pointed out our need to talk to companies and compliance programs to find out if our assumptions about our corruption-training software product, Kinethics, were right. We had a lot of questions and this week we put them to the test.
We learned that some of our assumptions were right. Companies did not have ethical compliance that was culturally specific. We defined culturally specific to mean that the questions asked on compliance tested whether the employee understood company and legal codes in the backdrop of a foreign land’s customs.
We started looking into Department of Justice cases and recent news to find a case where being culturally aware could have helped a company avoid a corruption scandal.
We found one with GlasxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical company that was fined $500 million dollars by the Chinese government for bribing government officials. The GSK employees claimed that their bribes were a gift, which is common in Chinese culture.
And then we started wondering, what if we used GSK’s case as an example? Not just as an example in our pitch, but as an example for other companies and employees who found themselves in the same situation. We could use real cases to build out scenarios that would result in real consequences if acted upon.
So we started asking more questions and found that companies liked this idea. Scenarios based on real cases would resonate with employees and help start a conversation, which could lead to real change.
We also found that there were two types of companies: the kind that cared about inclusiveness and understanding of the cultural environment they were entering and companies that simply viewed compliance training as a legal “check in the box.”
Either way we found a product and niche: a scenario based choose-your-own-adventure interactive that would allow employees to act on real cases with real consequences. We also found a market, companies that wanted to be culturally aware and create a difference in the communities they entered. From there, we would build on the credibility of these companies to reach other companies that do not view cultural knowledge as a part of their responsibility.