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Social Media Finds Its Place in KPMG’s Ethics and Compliance Training

As you’re well aware, the excitement around social media has infested our lives to the point of nausea. It may have taken awhile but it appears that the largest accounting firms have come to grips with this and are attempting to embrace it – albeit in an awkward hug where your bodies finds itself in a strange contortion.

As a result of this warming up to all things social media, at least one firm – KPMG – has decided that some explicit reminders were appropriate as part of their annual ethics and compliance training. A Kamper submitted the following query:

There’s a new section this year on social media in the KPMG annual ethics and compliance training. I’m in process of going through it right now, but the summary asks:

Do you ‘friend’ your clients or vendors?
Do you Twitter about the engagement you’re on?
Do you blog about your work environment

You may want to think twice and make sure you are following the applicable firm policies and exercising good judgment before you post that next entry.

Was wondering if you had heard of any of the other firms integrating this type of training into their programs? I guess some people need remedial training in common sense — I’d hope that at least the younger people at KPMG aren’t clueless enough in this day and age to think that their online habits won’t impact their work/career.

Cluelessness may have been a good excuse circa 2004 when Facebook was new, but there really is no excuse in 2010 for a Gen Y’er to be similarly clueless

Our source brings up a good point – Gen Y types should be aware that anything they Tweet, post to FB or to a blog could easily seen by their firm’s Internet reputation teams (these are real, aren’t they?) so the message here could fall into the “common sense” bucket, akin to the three martini lunch. Perhaps these instructions are for the older Klynveldians that aren’t so social media savvy that have discovered a new outlet for venting but aren’t yet familiar with the potential repercussions.

We asked DWB – our resident friendly human resources professional – about this new development in ethics and compliance training to get a little more perspective:

Caleb, why wasn’t Going Concern mentioned as a social media platform? Statistics show you’re popular with the 35 – 50 female admin demographic.

Like the submitter, I too am interested in knowing if the other firms are approaching social media and the inherent risks associated with it. Barring a severe breach in independence or security, the firms will not block the likes of Twitter and Facebook; can you imagine the upheaval among the ranks? That said, incorporating different social media platforms in the Ethics and Compliance training will make some individuals stop and think about what they’ve posted in the past. It is a gentle reminder that bashing your clients and coworkers isn’t the best practice (common sense, like the submitter noted). More importantly, this is an crucial move from an HR and legal perspective – now HR and Compliance has a “we told you so” leg to stand on should disciplinary action need to be taken.

While we can neither confirm nor deny the admin statistics, it is clear that KPMG has put everyone on notice that firing you for your idiotic workplace-related status updates is fair game.

Whether or not other firms have gone to the lengths to explicitly include social media in similar trainings is unknown to us but if you’re in the know, kindly elaborate. For the rest of you, we suggest keeping those Tweets and status updates to trite observations and boring descriptions of your kids’ activities. But you will be unfriended/unfollowed/hidden from view by many.