Compliance in Australian Business: Understanding Compliance in Organisations Actions vs. State of Being


Compliance in Australian Business landscape is a paramount concern for organizations across diverse industries. However, distinguishing between ‘doing compliance’ and ‘being a compliant organization’ is often confusing. While these concepts may appear similar, they are fundamentally distinct and hold significant importance for achieving business success and integrity

1. Doing Compliance: A Proactive Approach

‘Doing compliance’ refers to the actions an organisation takes to adhere to legal and regulatory standards. This is a dynamic process involving several steps:

  • Understanding the Regulations: Keeping up-to-date with laws and industry-specific regulations.

  • Implementing Policies: Developing internal policies and procedures to meet these standards.

  • Training and Awareness: Educating employees about compliance requirements and ethical practices.

  • Regular Audits and Assessments: Conducting internal audits to ensure ongoing adherence to compliance standards.

In short, ‘doing compliance’ is about taking proactive steps to meet external requirements. It’s a continuous process of evaluation and adaptation to regulatory changes.

2. Being a Compliant Organisation: A Culture of Integrity

On the other hand, ‘being a compliant organisation’ is about embodying a culture of compliance and ethics at the core of business operations. It’s not just about ticking boxes; it’s about integrating compliance into the organisational DNA. Key aspects include:

  • Ethical Leadership: Leaders who prioritise compliance and ethics, setting a tone for the entire organisation.

  • Organisational Culture: Cultivating an environment where compliance is viewed as part of everyday business practice, not just a legal necessity.

  • Stakeholder Trust: Building trust with customers, employees, and regulators by consistently demonstrating commitment to ethical practices.

  • Long-Term Perspective: Viewing compliance as integral to sustainable business practice, rather than a short-term legal obligation.

Being a compliant organisation means that compliance is not just an activity; it’s a fundamental business principle.

3. The Interplay Between Doing and Being Compliant

While distinct, ‘doing compliance’ and ‘being a compliant organization’ are interrelated. Effective compliance actions (like regular training and audits) help in fostering a culture of compliance. Conversely, a compliance-oriented culture supports and enhances compliance activities.

4. The Australian Context

In Australia, with its robust legal framework and regulatory bodies like ASIC and ACCC, the distinction between these two concepts is particularly significant. Australian organisations are expected not only to comply with laws but to embody the principles of fairness, honesty, and responsibility in their operations.


Understanding the difference between doing compliance and being a compliant organisation is crucial for businesses anywhere in the world. While the former focuses on specific actions and procedures, the latter is about cultivating a culture that naturally upholds compliance and ethical standards.

Ultimately, the goal for businesses should be to integrate both aspects seamlessly, ensuring not only legal adherence but also fostering trust and integrity in the market.

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