Ethics: How To Be More Ethical In 2016

Posted by Amanda Nieweler

on January 12, 2016

Don’t you wonder what ethics horrors 2016 may bring?

This post is adapted from a Compliance and Ethics blog post. It’s an important topic and worth repeating. I encourage you to pass it along.

We saw many shocking and eye-rolling moments in 2015. The FIFA scandal where many higher-ups have now been banned from professional soccer. The Volkswagen emissions-cheat scandal where there was a ruse to skirt emissions controls. Recently there was the pharmaceutical executive who decided to raise prices of life-saving drugs to astronomical level. He’s now facing securities fraud charges that could land him in prison for years. And of course, the US, and many of us here north of the border, are starting to hunker down and watch what enfolds during the 2016 Superbowl elimination rounds (Phew Seattle Seahawks, you got lucky there!). We certainly won’t forget the whole ‘deflate-gate’ scandal and you can be sure every single football used will be scrutinized from every angle!

What on earth is on the horizon for 2016? I suppose time will tell.

We’ve posted on company culture many times, and how important it is that leaders help and guide all employees in making the right decisions. Many employees, especially less experienced employees, are going to more than likely participate in a behaviour if they are given the opportunity to do so, and their superiors are also participating in that same behaviour. This covers the good and the bad. Ethical and not quite so ethical.

Individuals who commit ethics and integrity violations can create serious consequences for their employers, not the least of which is fines and public scrutiny.

No one knows this better than Walt Pavlo. The ‘did you make your numbers’ question translates into finding creative ways to make the numbers. And in many cases being ‘creative’ takes precedence. It is the responsibility of leadership to ensure that there is a culture of ethics and integrity in their organization, and that every single employee understands and is committed to the company culture of conducting themselves in an ethical manner.

The following three points are taken from the Compliance and Ethics Blog post and aim to ensure that 2016, at the least, sees your organizations acting with integrity:

  • Leadership needs to walk the talk and lead by example. The tone at the top should demonstrate a commitment to integrity and set proper expectations for employees
  • Include employees in the process – employees are more likely to act in an ethical way if they feel they are included in the design of the culture. Organizations that incorporate employee input and evaluations within their Ethics and Compliance programs are more likely to sustain a culture of Ethics and Compliance
  • A few ethics questions on a Corporate Culture survey is a good place to start – but a stand-alone employee survey dedicated to Ethics and Compliance establishes a baseline measure that allows for a better understanding of whether integrity resides in the organization and what employees need in order to feel a part of the process and allows the organization to track improvements over time

These are great points. Management, especially higher up the chain, may not intentionally be out-of-sync with the inner working of a company and how all employees are conducting themselves. But the bigger the company is, the more likely this is the case. It’s impossible to just know everything. That’s why it’s so important that management have programs and tools in place to help them engage with employees, and try to understand what they think and feel, and what they are likely to do when confronted by ethical issues.

Engaging every single employee will not only enable them to feel like they are making a difference to the company, but will also ensure that all unethical issues are handled in a timely manner, if not eliminated altogether. This will also set up a company for a successful 2016 and on.

Here’s hoping your company doesn’t become the next news-worthy scandal we’ll be talking about in 2017!

 

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