The GDPR is the world’s toughest standard for data privacy. Managing GDPR compliance within a company is not a task for any particular department. It is a task that the entire organization needs to embrace in its processes and in the way it thinks about customers and employees. GDPR compliance is the result of a strong GDPR-friendly organizational culture.

Here are 5 Steps an organization can take to become GDPR-friendly

  1. GDPR-compliance culture starts at the top. Companies that avoid GDPR fines and judgements tend to have top managers who set the proper expectations regarding how employee and customer data will be used and respected. These managers lead through example by following the same procedures as everyone else, and by treating customer and employee data as something over which the organization has temporary custody, vs. ‘ownership.’
  2. Choose data privacy processes with care for clarity of communication. A company that is GDPR-friendly has a clear idea of what its compliance processes deliver and can communicate them in detail with ease. Everyone who touches customer data has to be aware of data-handling processes to avoid embarrassing and costly errors. Processes that come out of a GDPR audit can be simple and effective and adjusted for each department that is concerned with data. In this manner, the entire organization can work together toward the common goal of maintaining GDPR compliance.
  3. Don’t pigeonhole your data privacy officers. As part of the constant update process that is involved in GDPR compliance, an organization should bring their data protection officers into decision-making opportunities within the organization, at least in a consultative manner, so they can provide early insights into potential problems arising from any organization-wide activity that may place data privacy management at risk.
  4. Fix basic data-privacy issues quickly (and use this priority as a push toward data-handling cultural change). A GDPR audit and assessment will generate a list of action items that will require prompt resolution to be effective. Top management should make these ‘quick-fixes’ a priority. Not only will solving these issues begin to repair data-handling processes to prevent difficulties, but it will also work to generate momentum for GDPR-friendly change within organizational processes. The prioritization of the resolution of these issues, with the application of time and resources needed, works as an initial push toward the organization-wide attitudinal changes needed to create a GDPR-friendly culture.
  5. Specialized training should be offered just in time. Many companies invest in “big bang” training efforts, only for employees to rapidly forget what they’ve learned if they haven’t put it to use right away. The change into a GDPR-friendly culture will involve special training over time, within multiple departments ranging from IT to Marketing. A ‘Big Bang’ approach to that training will only create difficulties into the future if it is not maintained or if it is considered a ‘temporary’ change that can be ignored. Just in time training, provided on a regular basis, reinforces the message of cultural change and provides the necessary muscle, enforced from the top down, to engage with GDPR-friendly processes, work to maintain them, and so safeguard the organization against GDPR issues and financial fines.

Company processes are often driven by habits nurtured through organic necessity. This situation applies to data-handling processes that were developed prior to the existence of the GDPR. Aspiring to be an organization with GDPR-friendly practices is not enough. To be GDPR-friendly, companies need to develop data-handling cultures in which the GDPR-driven mindset can flourish. Leaders can promote this shift through example, by practicing new habits and creating expectations for what it really means to take into consideration GDPR-friendly data privacy practices throughout the organization when making decisions involving customer and employee data handling.

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