Compliance Challenges

Compliance_Back view of businessman looking at big glowing light bulb

Compliance is not for the faint of heart, a mantra every HR professional knows instinctually.  This is due, largely in part, to its complexity.  It’s made up of a plethora of facets, each being critical to the whole.  Some include:

  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Technology
  • Legal

That is not an extensive list by any means.  And if those issues and those not listed weren’t challenging enough, another challenge lies in how HR must stay ahead of lightning speed regulatory changes and be prepared at a moment’s notice to make changes to current strategies in place.

Compliance Challenges

Diversity and Inclusion

In the past, diversity and inclusion, sadly, was a numbers.  Today, diversity and inclusion is so much more.  In fact, it is often seen by potential employees as a differentiator between companies.

For the purpose of this discussion, let’s consider diversity and inclusion two sides of the same coin.

On the diversity side, there is the diversity of thought; how people process information.  It also includes the multigenerational face of today’s workforce with Baby Boomers, and Generations X, Y (Millennials) and Z all going into work each day.  And don’t forget about the multicultural aspect, especially for those companies that are global in size.

Inclusivity is made up of factors like gender, race, veterans, the disabled and other groups such as those individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDDs) or the formerly incarcerated. 

So, what does compliance look like when applying it to diversity and inclusion?

One example might include making sure cultural holidays are observed, especially if they company has a presence in different countries around the world.  Each of those countries has their own cultural identities that must be recognized and embraced.  Another, making sure the workplace is accessible for all employees.  It also means making sure employees have access to the appropriate technology.


Speaking of technology, HR is functioning in a digital world.  This is nothing new, but that means being compliant with rules related to technology.

For instance, the company must ensure there are rules in place governing technology-related issues.  Are employees allowed to bring in and use their own device such as a laptop or tablet?  If so, what are the restrictions on those devices?  How can those devices be used in the workplace?

It also governs how employees are using the technology.  Are their provisions in place to stop employees from using technology as a means to further their own goals and agendas?  Are their loopholes that allow employees to sexually harass a fellow employee over email or to send inappropriate jokes over the company’s internal messaging systems?

Compliance for these issues often requires some type of technological stopgap measure such as an email filter.


Probably the most difficult area in which to be compliant are legal issues.  In a lot of ways, legal encompasses the previous two areas discussed and many others as well such as affirmative action

Take sexual harassment.  There is a large amount of law surrounding this particular issue.  Certainly as the #MeToo movement continues to grow and gains steam, more and more governments are building and structuring laws related to the issue it represents.  The impact on compliance is overwhelming as HR attempts to stay ahead of the changes or make decisions on how best to comply with the new laws and regulations.  The reality here is compliance is not a choice, but a mandate.

To learn more about Sexual Harassment, download our guide:  A Guide for HR and Sexual Harassment.

Another area of concern is unions.  There are specific laws indicating how these laws need to be applied and followed.  Examples of unions include:

  • United Automobile Workers
  • United Steelworkers
  • United Mine Workers
  • American Federation of Teachers

For HR, legal compliance is a massive undertaking.  If possible, the best way to stay ahead of these types of changes is to work with the company’s legal team as they are best positioned to help address related issues.  In some instances, companies hire consultants to manage legal compliance.

In Summation

As noted earlier, compliance is very complex.  There are many different avenues that exist and all of them require HR’s attention.  One thing is for sure:  regulation will never end meaning compliance is a necessary action and requires an equally important response.  Failing to ensure compliance on all levels can open the company up to litigation or fines.