Bill Burtis – Juniper Networks
- Written by: Fatima Taha
- Produced by: Zachary Brann & Peter Holt
- Est. reading time: 4 mins
The old saying goes “a penny for your thoughts,” but Bill Burtis has a very different approach to gaining insight into his colleagues. He’s passing out stickers with the words #SpeakUp next to a microphone graphic.
The hashtag-tagline, along with a quarterly internal publication, is part of a campaign he began two years ago when he was promoted to Juniper Networks’ vice president and chief compliance officer. He started at the global networking solutions company in 2015 as the senior director of its Integrity and Compliance Group in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“I believe that creating a strong speak-up culture is inherently linked to building a safe, friendly environment of trust,” Burtis said at one of the company’s recent J-Talks—think TED Talk but restricted to internal employees.
His efforts are also reflected on the company’s website, which has an Integrity and Compliance landing page that can be reached by anyone. The website also includes the company’s downloadable Worldwide Business and Business Partner Codes of Conduct.
“Speak up” stands out in bold letters in the middle of the page with links to email Burtis or his Integrity and Compliance Group with concerns about questionable, fraudulent or illegal activities in relation to Juniper Networks.
“I often equate compliance to sales and marketing,” Burtis says. “At the end of the day, my team and I are marketing how to do the right thing and creating channels that allow employees, business partners and customers to be compliant.”
Anonymity and assurance
The Integrity and Compliance webpage is one of the many communications channels Burtis and his ICG team have implemented. The page highlights Juniper’s Integrity Helpline—a website and hotline, which is run by an independent third-party service, that Burtis and his team worked closely with CEO Rami Rahim to execute.
Anyone can anonymously call or submit a report online. The site also links to company policies and has an interactive “Ask a Question” section where anyone can anonymously and confidentially inquire about ethics and compliance-related issues.
“Obtaining compliance information, understanding it and asking questions wasn’t always this easy or simple,” Burtis says. “That’s why in 2020, one of my first steps as the company’s new CCO was redefining the team’s vision and enhancing the program to create a seamless, integrated employee experience.”
His vision for the aptly named ICG 2.0 focuses on five areas: Building links between ICG and the other departments, helping the company achieve its business growth goals through compliance, strengthening core compliance, being a data-led program, and, of course, fostering a strong Speak Up culture.
“To successfully navigate today’s challenging ethical climate, my team and I have been intentional about building relationships across the organization,” Burtis says. “It’s also why I’ve aligned ICG 2.0 with the Department of Justice’s guidance on designing an effective corporate compliance program.”
Microlearning for macro impact
Using the DOJ’s guidance for reference, Burtis and his team have redefined traditional training by focusing on so-called microlearning.
Through this approach, employees are introduced to policies and procedures and tested on their retention of information through 15 to 30-second scenario-based questions. Burtis uses the Qstream microlearning platform to create risk-based programs that he can tailor to managers, current employees or new hires. It also allows him to use data analytics to track completion and proficiency rates.
“This means I can target and adapt training in real time to address potential risk trends such as matters or questions about giving business courtesies to vendors or business partners,” he says.
He and his team have also launched trainings aimed specifically at new hires and newly promoted managers. He attends all training sessions throughout the year and interacts with local and global attendees. He says this is imperative because it shows all employees that he and ICG are proponents of speaking up.
“It’s important to set the tone early for new employees and managers alike, and often trainings are the first opportunity to build a trusted relationship with employees,” he says.
Beyond training, he also helps employees increase their knowledge through a quarterly internal publication—Integrity Insights—which spotlights a compliance topic, related policies and lessons learned through real-life examples of internal investigations.
“Companies don’t often provide that level of transparency,” Burtis says. “We keep the details anonymous but sharing helps everyone understand what to avoid and that people are being held accountable. It illustrates our dedication to a high-trust environment.”
Harnessing the (legal) power of words
To assess employees, Burtis and his team deploy an annual integrity survey, which also helps them gauge the impact and effectiveness of ICG’s Speak Up initiatives. In 2021, the company scored “incredibly high” on the “Comfort in Speaking Up” category.
“Employees are increasingly becoming more comfortable coming directly to ICG—me and my team—to report unethical behavior without fear of retaliation,” he says. “We’ve worked hard to build this level of trust by pushing open communication messaging and providing information on how and where to raise concerns.”
Burtis says he appreciates that Juniper Networks gave him the unique opportunity to reset the brand through compliance and by establishing an environment of trust.
“For me and Juniper Networks, ‘corporate culture of trust’ aren’t just buzzwords,” he says. “We want our employees to be prepared to successfully navigate integrity moments. I remind employees that it’s our shared responsibility to protect and shape Juniper Networks’ company culture for the present and future. And that they do not have to navigate it alone—the ICG is here to help.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Summer II 2022 Edition here.
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