Thinking Like the Consumer: Kimberly-Clark Leverages Brand Insights to Elevate Compliance Programs

May 2, 2019 9:50 AM ET

Kurt Drake, Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer
Kimberly-Clark Corp.

Great brands like Huggies, Kleenex, Scott, and Kotex take deep consumer insights and apply them to every aspect of a product’s design, packaging, and marketing.  It’s a continuous cycle that repeats itself in order for these essential brands to stand out with consumers.

Recently, Kimberly-Clark and its global compliance team decided to borrow a few pages out of its brand playbooks and apply them to its core product – the Code of Conduct. Like most large companies, Kimberly-Clark maintains a significant number of policies, procedures, and instructions to guide daily business decisions for its 41,000 employees around the world. 

Of course, any policy is only effective if employees know it exists, where to find it, and what the policy requires. 

When we started to think like our brands, we realized that design and functionality were only part of the challenge. We needed the Code and related policies to be useful enough for employees and leaders to make daily business decisions.

Our aspiration was to provide decision-making support in a helpful, real-time tool that engaged our consumer – the employee.

The first step was simplification. Working with a cross-functional team, we streamlined the number of global policies and simplified Kimberly-Clark’s Code from 12,000-plus words, to 5,000 words. In total, that’s about the length of a newspaper feature article. This more manageable structure centered around key risk areas and a highly focused set of global policies.

With employees from four different generations, we needed to consider how various groups consume information. We also needed to consider the various laws, regulations, and workforce contracts in place that govern how we can deliver information such as this. The team arrived at a multi-channel, online experience that mimicked a retail store front, complete with a chat bot – KayCee – to assist with search and guide users when needed. Each virtual aisle of the store helps employees and leaders navigate a related set of risk topics.

But would our employees “buy” what we had to offer?

Our final challenge was to present this content in a way that drives “foot traffic.” The team looked at how to support a simplified Code with training tools, video case studies, access to subject matter experts, and leader videos. By keeping the aisles stocked with the most current information and supporting resources, the various policies could come to life in ways that make them actionable.

Finally, we wanted to ensure we could continuously improve the experience. We implemented data analytics to proactively ensure that our Code portal maintains the right engagement at the right time to the right employee.

Kimberly-Clark’s interactive Code went live in July 2018, and this new approach was a key element in the company’s recent recognition as one of the "World's Most Ethical Companies” by Ethisphere Institute, the independent center of research that promotes best practices in corporate ethics and governance.

By leveraging nearly 150 years of brand know-how, we have made the Code an essential product for Kimberly-Clark’s employees and leaders.