A recent attendee at an ethics seminar spoke to me about her enthusiasm to arrange a Raise the Bar analysis of her organisation, as she now understood and could articulate to her senior leadership, the whole-of-organisation benefits of a proactive approach to encouraging professional conduct and improving systems for dealing with unethical practices.
She explained that in her role she was responsible for addressing unethical conduct, driving an ethical culture among employees and ensuring company practices were in line with the values of the company and its legal and compliance requirements.
Follow-up conversations with the attendee confirmed the company would benefit (as many others have) from a tailored review and recommendations for how to achieve enhanced service delivery and market share, improved performance through positive workplaces and organisational culture, enhanced organisational leadership, and improved corporate risk management capability – which are the four SEAM-focused components used to benefit an organisation’s operations and bottom line.
The attendee understood that organisations that put their head in the sand and don’t actively work to embed ethical practise within their organisation are ignoring risks including: reputational harm; reduction in profits, market share and other desirable outcomes; reduced employee and potential employee engagement; reduced customer engagement; reduced engagement of peer organisations; reduced trust in an entire sector; and significant industry and government fines and sanctions.
She told me my explanation of the competitive advantages associated with proactive, comprehensive and tailored ethics programs and practices just made good business sense, particularly considering the issues being dragged into the light from the royal commission into Australia’s financial sector.
She commented that if such an approach was undertaken by one of the large financial service companies prior to the crisis they would now be reaping the reward of many new customers.
The SEAM analysis will position her company to realise the benefits of, bottom line savings from potential lawsuits and settlements, and reduced costs from internal fraud and theft.
also In addition, of course, doing the right thing matters to partner firms, taxpayers, employees and other stakeholders. Therefore, being more ethical than competitors – especially on issues that matter to your customers – is good business.
Finally, a safe and ethical workplace and culture improves employee productivity, creativity and loyalty, and helps you attract and retain the pick of the bunch from the available talent.
Ethics matters because it really matters.