Is Ethics Alive and Well? Or Just Compliance?

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Is Ethics Alive and Well? Or Just Compliance?

We focus quite a bit on compliance and information governance, at the most basic level. More or less at the level of the ‘doer’ as opposed to the ‘leader’. We deal with the bottom line, the ROI, the improvement in business processes. But I just read a survey about ethics which I thought was interesting. To be exact, the ‘2013 Ethics and Compliance Leadership Survey Report’ (registration required for download), conducted and compiled by LRN.

Many (too many) years ago, I worked for IBM. During the arduous two years of initial training one mandatory item was memorizing the core values. As I look back management actually lived by those core values. Core values used to be quite popular and every company, regardless of size, seemed to have them. As a writer I once actually wrote the core values for a company that I had no clue on what their core values were. I just wrote what I thought they should be.

That’s why I thought this survey was interesting. Organizations for the most part are on the up and up. But some – such as the finance industry have proven not so ethical. As the saying goes it takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch, but in the case of the meltdown of the finance industry it appears it was quite a few bad apples and quite a few unethical business models. So I come full circle to my thoughts on ethics.

The question is compliance enough? Does your organization have a structured ethics program? Does it have the culture to support transparency and accountability to various stakeholders and to the world? Or is compliance – the hard and fast rules enough?

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