Six ways to keep your team interested in privacy

You’ve taken the first step towards protecting privacy. But how do you keep that momentum going?

By Karima Noren

Co-founder of the Privacy Compliance Hub

March 2023

Building a culture of continuous privacy compliance doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an organisation-wide change that takes ongoing time, effort and commitment. But some leaders may find that after an initial spike in enthusiasm for privacy, other priorities can cause it to wane. Here’s how to get your team back on track. 

Choose the right champions

Privacy champions are right at the heart of every organisation that takes privacy seriously. They’re the motivators and enablers, sharing what they’ve learned about why privacy matters and guiding others to follow their lead. You’ll ideally want to appoint one in each area of the business so that enthusiasm spreads throughout every function. And don’t just pick random people in the company – instead identify those people who are excited about privacy and want to do their bit to protect it. It might be someone you didn’t expect. The best champions are leaders who know how to energise others. 

Agree a regular time to meet 

Champions should meet regularly, but make sure that you agree on a time that works for everyone, rather than impose a time. You’re asking champions to step away from their day jobs and do something completely different, so it might make sense to do that on a Friday afternoon with a cup of coffee rather than first thing on a Monday morning when they’re itching to get on with their long to-do list for the week. It’s important to find a time when everyone has the best chance to be in the right frame of mind. 

Make it collective

For many champions, privacy will be in addition to their every day responsibilities. Therefore, it’s important to incorporate some rewards into the process, rather than just imposing extra work. Being a champion has its own benefits but you should also think about what you can offer to boost morale. That could be typical HR incentives, such as an early finish one day, a voucher, or pizza at the office. Or the team could be rewarded through visibility, such as with an award for champion of the month. Above all, leaders need to publicly recognise the work that’s being done and the individuals that are doing it. 

Reward the team 

We’re all in this together. Privacy isn’t a top-down thing. It’s getting everyone involved in working towards a common cause. So think about how you can drive that feeling of collective responsibility. That might involve turning privacy into something of a competition between departments, with rewards for who does the best on data protection . Or encourage the different champions to take a milestone each on the Route Map (that’s an automated feature we have in our Hub) and see who does the best presentation or the most tasks over a period of time. If everybody feels like everyone is putting in the same amount of effort and has a stake in building this, they’ll drive each other to do better. 

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Make privacy topical

Nobody wants to work on something that has no value. So keep talking about privacy and why it’s important. Make it relevant to peoples’ everyday lives. Give privacy a spot at team meetings – perhaps a different champion can talk about a recent newsworthy privacy story, discuss the latest milestone reached on your privacy route map, or introduce a new training course that the rest of the teams will soon be asked to complete. Make privacy topical and front of mind, so that everyone in the company gets used to asking ‘what does that mean for privacy?’ as a matter of course when a decision is made.  

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Just keep going

Building a culture of continuous privacy compliance takes effort. If momentum dips, acknowledge that’s happened, perhaps appoint new champions to freshen things up, and start again. It’s important to keep going. It’s worth it – organisations that do better on privacy gain a competitive advantage, build more trust with customers, investors and commercial partners, are less likely to have data breaches, and won’t fall foul of the regulators. But getting this right also has wider benefits for all of us in society. If everyone does their bit, that cumulative effect is incredibly powerful. We all have a responsibility to protect privacy as a human right, for ourselves as individuals and for future generations.

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