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Compliance is the act of complying with a command, desire, or rule. Alternately, some give the definition of compliance as adhering to requirements, standards, or regulations.

Both of these compliance definitions are important for your organization. To be successful, your organization must take steps to make sure every staff member is complying with internal policies and rules you put in place.

You also must ensure that your company as a whole is in compliance with any external laws, regulations, or standards relating to your industry.

What dose Compliance mean for your Organization:

In general, compliance in the workplace involves two important areas:

  1. Regulatory Compliance: the steps an organization takes to comply with relevant external laws, regulations, and guidelines.
  2. Corporate Compliance: the actions and programs an organization sets in place to ensure compliance with internal policies, procedures, and accepted behavior, as well as external regulations.

These types of compliance go hand in hand, and both are essential. An organization that neglects regulatory compliance may face federal fines or legal action, and could even be shut down.

An organization without a corporate compliance program may have chaotic, wasteful, or unethical practices.

Usually, companies ensure compliance by creating policies and procedures and then establishing a compliance department to make sure everyone adheres to policy.

What Is a Compliance Department?

Many organizations create a compliance department or committee to help enforce compliance. Some companies may have one primary compliance officer.

In any case, a compliance officer or department makes sure everyone does what they’re supposed to do. This may include educating employees about regulations and policies, monitoring behavior, and following through on any necessary corrective or disciplinary actions.

Compliance department members

Of course, the structure and makeup of a compliance department will look different for every organization.

Some companies may choose to create a compliance committee made up of supervisors from different areas of the organization. Others may hire a specific compliance officer who has training and experience in compliance enforcement.

The structure of the compliance department depends on the size and reach of the organization.

For example, companies that do business internationally may need several compliance officers or committee members in each region. Compliance officers will make sure that the organization complies with the local laws and standards in every area where they operate.

What does a compliance officer do?

There are five main functions of a compliance officer:

1. Identify the risks an organization faces

Compliance officers will regularly run risk assessments and advise corporate leadership on which areas pose the biggest potential risks.

This may include looking over documentation that covers things such as: audit results, recent litigation, compliance complaints, employee claims, industry enforcement trends, and policies in each risk area.

2. Create and implement processes to protect against those risks

Once a compliance officer has identified a risk, he or she will work with organizational leaders to design controls to prevent that risk. The method of prevention will differ depending on the issue.

For some risks, it may be as simple as revising policies and procedures. Others may require an organization to conduct additional training on a topic or revamp safety and security measures.

Some measure of risk is unavoidable. But having compliance controls in place can help if your organization does end up facing a lawsuit.

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