In our personal lives ethics and good conduct are so important – well they are to me at least and I’m sure for the vast majority of us.
So, why does this not always translate through to every-day business operations?
Perhaps the pursuit of profit clouds good judgement, but surely ethics must be encouraged to prevail because, without it, long-term performance is simply not sustainable. I possibly live in an ideological world, but having witnessed the importance of culture rising up on the board agenda, I think this philosophy is beginning to gain increased merit.
It’s imperative in today’s ever-changing world to look to maintain stable foundations – you only need to look at Carillion as an example of what happens when you don’t. It’s clear the Work and Pensions Committee see the importance of a strong governance base from the statement they made this week: “Everything we have seen points the fingers in another direction – to the people who built a giant company on sand in a desperate dash for cash”.
In many instances, ethical issues are not necessarily caused by a single-minded dash for cash, but often occur as a result of ignorance, either due to lack of awareness or understanding. Is it therefore not the responsibility of those with the knowledge of ethics and good conduct to share this with the rest of the business by directing their colleagues on the path to doing business ethically? Seem obvious, but the real question we should perhaps be asking is: “are we taking our knowledge of ethics and communicating it in a way that the average person would understand, taking a strategic approach to how we do this and when, and measuring our success?”
To make this effective and to reach the best outcomes, we need Governance, Comms and Reward teams to unite! Collaborating skill sets will ensure content and delivery is well planned and executed, placing ethics at the very centre of the policies we create, our communications and how we reward our people. Only then can we create a consistent ethical tone that inspires sustainable business culture and performance.