UK Writer: Creating a Positive Ethics Culture
A UK trade weekly for lawyers, Legal Week, has a wonderful article encouraging businesses to base their policies not merely on compliance with ethics laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley and its non-US equivalents, but on creating a culture of ethics that far exceeds the legal minimum.
When we focus on compliance alone, we are setting the bar too low. Adherence to the regulations becomes an acceptable standard to work to and we make it difficult for employees to deal with issues not covered by the rules. Something more holistic is increasingly required.
If we move the focus towards ethics and the need to change behaviour, we are inevitably required to humanise the subject matter and begin to introduce a context to the content. Properly built and implemented ethics education becomes about being part of a better business, about improvement and moving towards something.
Oddly enough, the author, Chris Campbell, cites a tobacco company as a positive example. To my mind, there's nothing ethical at all about selling tobacco--but certainly the principle holds.
He proposes three questions to evaluate any action:
. are my actions potentially open to misinterpretation?
. are my actions likely to negatively impact others? and
. what will I be required to do as a result of my actions?