While the role of a legal leader involves regular interaction with many corporate functions, Diane Duvall has developed a high-performance relationship with human resources at Catalent Pharma Solutions. In fact, she even temporarily assumed a dual role as both VP of human resources for corporate functions and VP of legal, ethics, and compliance several years ago. As a former law firm litigation partner, Duvall represented various types of employers, including hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. She worked with their HR functions before moving in-house at Sanofi (formerly Aventis), where she supported its HR team on employment-related investigations and litigation matters. Now at Catalent, Duvall serves as a member of the legal and HR leadership teams as the VP and deputy general counsel, where she is providing oversight management to the ethical compliance program.
What makes the combination of human resources and ethics compliance such an important and effective combination?
Diane Duvall: Companies with cultures that emphasize integrity have more engaged employees and consistently outperform those that do not. Both human resources and compliance have a keen interest in ensuring that employees understand a company’s standards of behavior, corporate mission, and values. Those who understand and embrace those elements succeed, while those who do not are given appropriate feedback and, if needed, appropriate discipline.
Both human resources and compliance also serve as common sources of advice for employees. That can be to seek clarification or to express concerns, both of which are key aspects to an effective compliance program. As such, working together helps avoid duplication of efforts and provides a better understanding of what’s working, what’s not, where expectations might need to be clarified, or where additional training may be needed.
“Companies with cultures that emphasize integrity have more engaged employees and consistently outperform those that do not.”
Because the pharmaceutical industry is highly regulated, that interdepartmental relationship must be an incredibly important one to maintain.
Duvall: We do have some unique and complex regulations to comply with. But what’s critical is that our employees are clear about the compliance obligations that apply to their respective roles and that they understand why compliance matters. In practical terms, that means ensuring that everyone in every department understands how every decision and action we take impacts our success in supplying more products and better treatments to our customers and in creating a culture of quality and compliance.
When it comes to our partnership, the US Sentencing Commission’s guidelines for organizations and other applicable regulatory compliance guidelines have recognized human resources’ role in establishing organizational cultures and in helping to prevent, detect, and deter unethical conduct. Human resources, more than any other function, regularly interacts with employees, from recruitment and onboarding to ongoing employee training and performance feedback—even through to exit interviews at termination. All of these activities provide opportunities to align our mission and values with ethical leadership development and to gain insight about where there may be opportunities for improvement.
What advantages can you offer through your combined experience in legal, human resources, and compliance fields?
Duvall: Because I have practical experience in all three areas, I have a better understanding of the challenges each one presents, and that helps me propose practical, realistic solutions. In my current role, I often pull human resources and other corporate functional
subject-matter experts together to conduct investigations. My background helps ensure we stay on track to meet legal requirements and determine what is right for the company and for our corporate culture. For example, when we deal with bribery or harassment allegations, we might find nothing illegal, but discover there was a conflict of interest that should have been disclosed. Or there might have been rude behavior that occurred that violates our values and still needs to be addressed.
My HR experience and work as a trial attorney also helps me envision how things might appear to a jury, who often care more about what seems “fair” than the letter of the law. And, quite honestly, my various experiences in these different areas also provide me with good stories to share in compliance
Do you bring any unique perspectives to your legal work as a result of your experience as an HR executive?
Duvall: Things that may seem like common sense to an employment or compliance counsel may still be foreign to an employee in another function. Until you sit in the other person’s seat, it’s easy to forget that giving advice is often easier than taking it or actually acting on it. So having been on both sides, I hope I have learned to be more patient
Are you involved in any specific initiatives related to protecting or developing the corporate culture?
Duvall: We’re working on reinforcing our speak-up culture. We want to create an environment where people feel comfortable coming forward with questions or concerns, particularly when it comes to safety and the well-being of those who rely on the products and services we provide. We are always looking for new ways to engage employees that help avoid compliance fatigue that often comes with all the different rules, regulations, and responsibilities that apply to our business. And, finally, we are formalizing our patient-first culture, which will raise awareness about the impact that all of our business decisions and actions can have on patients using our products.