People & Leadership

How HR teams can build a better culture of data privacy in their organisations

GDPR means organizations and HR teams must ensure they’re creating a healthy data privacy culture across the employee lifecycle. Here’s how.

We all noticed the day GDPR came into effect – or, should we say, our inboxes did.

Companies took the final opportunity to adhere to new European Union (EU) privacy rules, with an influx of emails asking us to explicitly opt in to companies holding our data and notifying us about their updated privacy policies.

The EU privacy rules were created to compel companies to rethink the ethics of data handling and ensure they’re introducing processes that protect individuals’ privacy rights as much as possible.

It’s also an opportunity for organisations to provide better experiences for employees and the people who trust them with their data.

It’s important for individuals to feel like they can truly trust the companies they’re providing their personal information to and be confident that they will handle their data properly and securely.

The GDPR is a great opportunity to reinforce your company’s commitment to a data privacy culture, though.

What is a data privacy culture?

Building the right culture around security means taking a proactive approach, rather than a reactive one.

It’s far more effective to have your workforce embrace necessary safety and security processes than it is to be left rectifying mistakes created by unprofessional and unsafe behaviours.

A data privacy culture is one where every employee takes responsibility for individual data privacy rights.

It’s a culture where workers are empowered to know how to protect themselves, and the organisational provides the support needed to execute these behaviours confidently and effectively.

Designing a data privacy culture

The benefits of a data privacy culture are clear, but how do you arrive at that goal? It’s not enough to provide data privacy guidelines and revisit the topic annually for compliance.

Organisations must build in privacy by design to ensure they are creating a healthy data privacy culture across the entire employee lifecycle.

There are three main components to think about when building a data privacy culture for your organisation.

1. Technology

Software can help in complying with GDPR, including data storage, data security, data analysis, security alerts and providing a digital audit.

Are you using technology effectively?

2. Policies and consent

Having robust policies and procedures in place are important when designing and assessing business processes.

Having a policy in place means you’ve mapped out the data processes your organisation follows, documented it clearly, and communicated it with your employees. This is an important step towards transparency.

Consent is the other major step – have your employees agreed to the policies you have been in place? Do they know how to withdraw their consent?

3. Your workforce

Ensure employees are aware of their responsibility for the data security of their fellow employees, clients, partners, and their obligation to the organisation to protect its privacy.

The strength of an organisation is its employees. However, they are also a threat when it comes to data protection and compliance.

Whether through unintentional action or intentional malicious intent, employees can expose organisations to litigation and liability, significant financial costs, and huge reputational risks.

GDPR: The reality for HR and People teams

No matter where your business is located or how many employees your organisation employs, you should be thinking about the legislation and its approach to data privacy.

Use it to reinforce your company’s commitment to a data privacy culture.

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