Keeping Companies Out of Trouble

Susana Sierra’s BH Compliance, originating in Chile and now based in Miami, offers innovative solutions to keep private companies ethically sound and legally compliant. Using a blend of software monitoring and blockchain technology, BH Compliance provides verifiable evidence of diligent practices, helping companies avoid corruption and fines. With a growing clientele across the Americas and a pivot towards sustainability, Sierra’s venture continues to pioneer in corporate governance and ESG compliance.

BH Compliance monitors operations to avert corruption, fines

By Doreen Hemlock

As a mom, Susana Sierra works to keep her children safe. She teaches them that behavior matters. She makes sure they study in order to excel and is careful to not incentivize cheating or bad behaviors as a means to a desired end. As an entrepreneur, Sierra is doing the same for private companies. Her venture, BH Compliance, monitors processes inside companies for purchasing, hiring, and other tasks to help them follow good practices and stay out of trouble. Verifiable reports from her platform can provide evidence of diligent practices – for example, in a case of legal scrutiny for potential corruption by a rogue employee.

Susana Sierra

Sierra co-founded the venture in her native Chile in 2014. Back then, Chile was joining the prestigious Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) and mandated that companies comply with anti-corruption laws and obtain certification from a third-party for compliance. “I began to understand that the private sector has an important role in preventing corruption,” says Sierra, including self-monitoring to thwart the payment of kickbacks for government contracts, and recognizing that even one bad employee can destroy a company’s reputation and cost millions in legal fees and fines.

Sierra soon developed a passion for best practices to stem corruption. She was already a teacher at Chile’s Catholic University, where she helped develop a certificate program in corporate compliance and anti-corruption. She became active with Chile’s chapter of Berlin-based nonprofit Transparency International, the world’s largest anti-corruption group. She co-wrote a book on the subject. She also started taking her company’s in-person services international, heading first to Panama.

In 2016, BH Compliance added software to monitor corporate processes. The software gives managers a dashboard that tracks practices in each department as green (good to go), yellow (needing improvements) and red (requiring an overhaul.) In 2021 she set up in the U.S., eager to work with multinationals active in Latin America. The Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) in Miami, an incubator for foreign startups, offered her co-working space and guidance to grow in the U.S. market.

Meeting in Florida with prosecutors and Justice Department officials, Sierra soon found a recurring concern. Officials worried that businesses could modify reports to cover up problems. Sierra mentioned the issue to a colleague, who helped her use encrypted blockchain technology to timestamp reports, should they be subpoenaed. “That blockchain innovation came by chance, just from being in the Miami tech ecosystem,” says Sierra.

Today, BH Compliance employs 20 people in Chile and one (besides Sierra) in Miami, serving more than 150 companies across the Americas. Clients pay a set-up fee of about $40,000, plus a subscription fee of $4,000 monthly.

Sierra works to spread the word about compliance partly through an anti-corruption podcast in Spanish she hosts with Florida International University law professor Manuel Gomez. He describes Sierra as “a bundle of energy, perceptive and innovative,” applauding her pioneer use of block-chain for time-stamping reports. “Block-chain technology gives more transparency and reliability for data,” says Gomez, noting business compliance for too long has relied on self-reporting or records open to manipulation.

For 2024, Sierra is broadening her focus to sustainability, specifically to measure and monitor the “G” or governance policies in corporate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) programs that are increasingly under scrutiny by shareholders. BH Compliance now is rolling out its “G-Metrix” subscriptions, with expansion underway in Europe.

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