Leadership by example is key in data privacy

Leadership by example is key in data privacy

In this day and age, data privacy is imperative for any business that collects or uses personal data — especially as more and more countries and US states pass data privacy legislation. When the California Consumer Privacy Act went into effect on January 1, 2020, over half a million organizations had to update or create privacy policies or risk being fined.

However, it’s not just the hefty fines that businesses should be worried about. Reputational damage and erosion of consumer trust are also looming together with noncompliance consequences and potential breaches. But despite these reasons, many organizations still aren’t investing the necessary resources into their data protection programs. For most, weighing privacy concerns against other businesses and priorities poses a big challenge.

Fortunately, there’s a simple solution: creating a culture of privacy within your organization doesn't burn a hole in your pocket but will help you in meeting compliance obligations while truly protecting business and customer data.

Related reading: Data privacy 101: The most important regulations explained

Why data privacy matters

Data is an incredibly valuable asset in today’s digital economy. Gathering and sharing all sorts of information allow businesses to gain massive insights into their existing and potential consumers. However, possessing valuable and lucrative data will almost certainly attract the ill-intentioned. Cybercriminals today can easily make a pretty penny off of the personal information that an organization deals with, from customer and employee contact details to banking information to health records.

To maximize collected data, organizations must enforce policies and procedures that ensure that personal information is secured and consumers are not subject to unwanted surveillance. These could include:

  • Encrypting all personal information stored in your databases
  • Collecting only data that is necessary for the delivery of your products or services
  • Deleting personal information that you no longer need

Besides defining policies and processes for compliance, making privacy a central pillar in company culture goes a long way toward protecting your clients’ data, your customers’ trust in your company, and your business’s bottom line.

Create a culture of privacy

Embedding privacy in your company culture is akin to implementing privacy by design concepts in your IT systems. This way, you'll get an environment that safeguards privacy by default. This strengthens your security posture as a whole, while enabling you to use your data to its fullest potential.

However, creating a culture of privacy doesn’t just mean telling employees that they need to protect crucial business data. It’s important that you communicate to them why it’s important to do so, as well as what could happen if they fall short of their responsibilities. Therefore, the onus is on leaders to help everyone in your organization open their minds to caring about privacy.

Why leaders must set the right tone with data privacy

Organizational culture develops over time and is typically the result of shared experiences, values, and philosophies. It’s also heavily influenced by executive management, whose words and actions can shape the perspective of employees on various things, including data privacy.

It won’t matter if your business has best-in-class security tools. If your leaders send out the wrong message — like believing data privacy responsibilities are specific to one department such as IT or security — then you can expect that mindset to trickle down to your employees. This can significantly impact the effectiveness of your overall data protection program.

That’s why when building a culture of privacy, it’s crucial for executive management to thoroughly understand and accept the value of protecting data. It’s equally important that they walk the talk by demonstrating the best practices, tips, and guidelines that matter most to your organization.

We at outsourceIT can provide your business with custom technology solutions to meet your data privacy needs. Get in touch with us today.

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