The manner in which a result is achieved is just as important as the result itself.
Corporate ethics deal with the tension between integrity on the one hand and the pressure to achieve results on the other. How can values be maintained when people are under pressure, confronted with perverse incentives, or given the wrong example through their own leaders’ behaviour?
The core of ethical working
In a compliance programme, the focus is on behavioural change. A compliance programme is therefore also a transformational programme. Knowledge of change management is therefore crucial.
The world around us is changing very quickly, which means that tomorrow’s norms can barely be legislated for. This is why it’s so important to stimulate individual employees’ moral sensitivity.
Innovation and effectiveness
Recent research has proven that an innovative compliance programme aligns better with tomorrow’s norms and leads to more ethical behaviour. Innovation and effectiveness therefore go hand in hand.
By working ethically, you can:
Enhance employees’ moral sensitivity, thereby making them more capable of anticipating tomorrow’s norms.
Reduce the risk of harm so that you can avoid image damage, financial damage or worse.
It’s possible and permissible, but should you actually do it?
Compliance is pretty black-and-white. Legally, something is either allowed or it isn’t. But corporate ethics are more of a grey area. Something may be possible or permissible, but should you actually do it? Making the right assessment then depends on the individual’s moral sensitivity.
Organisations benefit from being able to discuss this on a continuous basis. If they don’t, there’s a risk of harm, with all the consequences that this may entail. The manner in which a certain result is achieved is just as important as the result itself.
If even leaders show unethical behaviour, why should employees color within the lines?
It’s rarely effective to force employees in showing desired behaviour, but a good example tends to be followed. And that starts at the top of an organisation. Because if leaders don’t show ethical behaviour, why should employees color within the lines?
So, as a leader, it’s crucial to set a good example, various studies tell us. That’s the reason why, for instance, an ethical commission, where integrity issues are discussed, should be set up as high as possible within the organisation.