In case you haven’t heard the word, January 28th is Data Privacy Day – a global initiative to promote privacy and data protection best practices for consumers and businesses.

As we approach Data Privacy Day this year, companies across the globe find themselves subject to a slate of new privacy and data protection laws and regulations. Plus, consumers are more aware of and concerned about how their personal information is being collected, used, and shared in ways that aren’t transparent to them. In fact and according to a recent Publisher’s Clearing House Customer Insights survey, a staggering 86% of Americans are more concerned about their privacy and data security than the current state of the U.S. economy – but two-thirds of these individuals either don’t know or are misinformed about how their data is being used and who has access to their personal information.

Data Privacy Day provides an excellent opportunity to analyze your organization’s privacy program to take stock and ensure it supports your strategic goals and customer commitments.

So, how can you kickstart the journey to take your organization’s privacy practices well beyond Data Privacy Day? Let’s dig in!

Make Privacy Stick

New obligations and the importance of consumer trust mean that companies must go beyond a mere annual commitment to raising privacy awareness and instead weave it into the fabric of their organizational culture throughout the year. Getting everyone on board can be a formidable challenge if you understand the importance of data privacy but work for a company that doesn’t fully grasp it.

While you may encounter objections, disagreements, and even the temptation to run away, successfully navigating through these challenges will earn you the reputation of a miracle worker and, in some cases, a peacemaker.

Establish Steering Committees or Privacy Champions to Help Spread the Word

Companies all in on data privacy typically have a formal process where each team establishes a steering committee or designates a “privacy champion” on each team to help promote the company’s privacy program and collaborate with other departments about large-scale privacy initiatives. With the support of senior leadership and numerous resources at their disposal, privacy champions are usually highly effective in their role.

But if your organization hasn’t fully embraced the privacy vibe yet, or perhaps you’re just starting out, how do you advocate for data privacy best practices without hearing the “what the what” reverb throughout your walls?

The answer is in appointing a privacy champion in key departments. These privacy champions will help you:

  1. Get buy-in from senior leaders by showcasing favorable use cases.
  2. Teach employees how to manage their personal privacy.
  3. Convert your marketing team into privacy enthusiasts.
  4. Spread the word about privacy during onboarding and in professional development settings.

The role of a privacy champion involves a lot of communication and focuses on the “whys” instead of just the “hows” of privacy.

Privacy champions use positivity in educating team members – not the fear of non-compliance – to help build a culture of privacy that leads to a more formalized and cohesive company-wide privacy program. They find small ways to incorporate privacy awareness into existing company-wide communications, sparking future-forward discussions that lead to a more effective program and enable quick adaptation to evolving regulatory requirements.

Get Support from the Top

Regardless of where your company is on its privacy journey, reaching its destination requires solid backing from the C-suite. Securing C-suite support for a comprehensive privacy program – beyond mere compliance measures- can be challenging if the top brass doesn’t grasp the added value derived from exceptional data management practices.

Top executives likely center their attention on the legal ramifications of non-compliance (fines, injunctions, even criminal liability in some states). When a program is solely focused on compliance, opportunities for building awareness and, thus, building a sustainable privacy program in your operations could be missed.

Communicate Privacy Efforts Effectively with Leadership

As a privacy champion, embrace your inner storyteller self and demonstrate how good data privacy practices can build or increase customer trust, set you apart from the competition, and even amp up those cross-functional efficiencies. This allows for more effortless conversations with senior executives, and you can start by:

  1. Forwarding articles loaded with statistics and research on privacy and consumer trust.
  2. Creating short presentations showcasing how privacy-first companies have enhanced their reputation.
  3. Sharing data illustrating how streamlining data collection can result in cost savings.
  4. Nurturing widespread awareness within the company about internal privacy successes, such as improving data accuracy, increasing the amount of first-party data, and so on.

Communicate Privacy to Employees

Fostering employee support for privacy initiatives is one of the best ways to help employees understand how to protect their personal information. How you start, all begins with how you regularly announce important initiatives throughout your organization.

For example, send privacy tips and best practices via email, the company’s intranet, or by an engaging video message – essentially any channel of communication that has been previously effective and fits with your company’s culture. Ask for C-suite and executive involvement (those whom your team members admire) to also lend their support in spreading awareness.

Make it personal. Educate employees on how to protect their own personal information. Offering guidance on cookies and managing their privacy settings, opting out of data sharing, and how to steer clear of email scams like phishing attacks will help them understand the significance of extending similar protections to your users.

Incorporate Privacy Training into Various Settings

Traditionally, privacy training is often delivered off the shelf through all-day seminars or boring annual lectures. While these intense training sessions have their place, more effective options exist. Integrating privacy training into engaging settings is imperative to create a lasting impact and embed privacy into your company’s culture.

Role-based privacy training effectively ensures employees understand how to handle privacy-related matters specific to their job and/or department. This targeted approach enhances comprehension and empowers employees to address privacy challenges within their roles proactively.

Gamification has also been shown to be a very effective training strategy. Think privacy puzzles, crosswords, trivia, or even privacy bingo. Games can make training enjoyable and memorable. Raffling off participation prizes also gives an incentive to be part of the fun.

Make Privacy Actionable

Building a privacy-first culture requires a deliberate approach. By establishing privacy champions, using different communication channels to spread the word, and offering diverse training settings, organizations can create a strong foundation for protecting company and individual data. Telling the story of privacy is an excellent place to start.

When in Doubt, work with a privacy consultant

As business leaders, your commitment to privacy goes beyond a single day. It’s a year-round journey, but when navigating the increasingly complex world of privacy regulations, sometimes you need extra professional help. Working with an experienced data privacy consultant is one of the best ways to ensure your efforts don’t go to waste. Letting privacy professionals take the lead throughout the year can take the weight off your shoulders and allow for a more informed and comprehensive strategy.

Schedule a free consultation with Red Clover Advisors today to explore how your team can build a sustainable privacy program that’s best suited for your business.