The Black Swan Partners
Risk, Compliance & Resilience


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Changing Marijuana Laws Create HR Challenges

Many states have legalized medical use of marijuana and other states, including Colorado and California, have said okay to recreational use. On July 1, 2018, Canada will allow the use of recreational marijuana across all its provinces. Employers in these states and in Canada will need to create or revise their workplace marijuana policy to address the issues that will likely arise. HR organizations will need to first understand what is legal right now. In some states this can be a tricky proposition. Second, companies will need to clarify their policies on both medical and recreational marijuana. Recreational marijuana at work should be treated like any other controlled substance, such as alcohol. Employers of course have the right to enforce a zero-tolerance policy against intoxication or impairment in the workplace.

While Canada does protect the medical use of marijuana, there does not appear to be any such protection in the US under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Likewise, because both medical and recreational marijuana are classified as illegal controlled substances under federal law, it is unlikely insurance companies will cover medical marijuana in the foreseeable future. Again, Canada does allow for the reimbursement of medical marijuana by health insurers.

Black Swan has lots of experience helping employers understand and address these emerging issues.

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Make Compliance a Market Differentiator

When compliance is not well managed, the balance sheet can be negatively impacted through regulatory fines, litigation and brand diminishment. Proactive risk management treats Compliance as a market differentiator that is  equally valued by customers, owners and regulators. Black Swan has helped many clients deliver Compliance programs that have improved their customer service and financial performance. The deployment of proactive Risk Management governance structures that directly engage the C-suite and Board, have delivered performance that has met or exceeded customer, owner and regulator expectations. 

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New EU Privacy Rules Take Effect in May

Data protection rules across Europe will see their biggest overhaul in two decades. The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which becomes effective on May 25 2018, will apply to companies, including those based here in the US, that hold or transmit the personal data of EU citizens. Companies are required to conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) to assess the likelihood and severity of risks to protected personal data from the company's processing operations. The PIA also requires the company to describe how it expects to manage and protect the data in question. 

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Is the SEC Coming for Your Bitcoin?

On March 7, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)  announced that all platforms used for exchanging cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, must register with the agency. According to the SEC, if a platform offers the trading of digital assets that are securities and operates as an "exchange," as defined under federal securities laws, the platform must register as a national securities exchange with the SEC or show that it is exempt from registration.

In related news, Bitcoin dropped by over 9% after Google said it will ban online advertisements promoting cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings. Facebook Inc., Google’s primary rival for ad dollars, banned ads for cryptocurrencies in January. 

Read more on what the SEC said

Prevention is the Key to an Effective Ant-Harassment Program

According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), prevention is the most important component of an anti-harassment program. Citing a report issued by the EEOC, SHRM says that an effective prevention program should focus on three key areas:

Accountability. Making managers accountable for their commitment to inclusion and respect through performance review processes.

Compliance +. Going beyond policy compliance to create a culture of respect.

Training 2.0. Including training that goes beyond legal requirements to explore civility and respect in the workplace.

See attached for the full SHRM article

Fat Tail Risks & Grey Swans

As John Chambers famously said, you either disrupt or you get disrupted. All risks have a balance sheet impact. Beyond traditional threats, organizations face fat tail events that demand fresh and innovative thinking.

We’re seeing tech mega trends that are quickly moving from concept to reality, creating disruptive risks and opportunities for organizations and their stakeholders. Key examples include the mobile internet, machine learning, the internet of things, cloud, advanced robotics, autonomous vehicles, advance genomics, energy storage, 3-D printing, advanced materials, renewable energy and advanced oil and gas exploration and recovery. Cyber and other geopolitical threats from China, North Korea, Iran, Russia and other state actors will continue to place enormous pressure on global organizations and their stakeholders.

The World Economic Forum issued its annual global risk report setting forth the risk priorities for 2018. Notable from the report are the top four risks of extreme weather events, natural disasters, failure of climate-change mitigation/adaptation and the water crisis.

These risks offer little opportunity for traditional risk management. Prevailing methodologies undervalue climate change, technological and other disruptive forces and mega trends. These models use weights and correlation factors that are linear and based too heavily on historical rather than dynamic data. The key to surviving and prospering is to create a culture of preparedness and resiliency.

Click here to see the full 2018 Global Risk Report