What is the full promise of compliance and ethics programs? (Part One)

 The full promise of compliance and ethics programs goes beyond the purely business realm to include nurturing habits of mind that address a wider range of challenges than just business-related ones (e.g. those concerning  family/personal life and governmental).

Among other things, such habits of mind could include (but would not be limited to):

– thinking systematically about risk,

– having a deep appreciation of the interests of other individuals and organizations,

– insisting on transparency where it is reasonable to do so,

– embracing meaningful approaches to accountability for doing what is right and for stopping what is wrong, and

– protecting truth telling at all costs.

None of these ways of thinking were invented (to my knowledge) by C&E practitioners. But for many millions of Americans and others there is now a steady reminder through C&E programs of the importance of thinking in these and other related ways. This, in turn, could provide a foundation for promoting greater ethicality in the broader societal realm.

One critically important area of this sort is truth telling.  Good citizen companies often place considerable emphasis on truth telling. They do so in codes of conduct, policies, training/communications, and investigations and discipline, among other things.

Does this make it more likely that those who have good C&E habits of mind around truth telling in the business would also be ethical in other spheres?  I don’t know and indeed it may be too soon to tell given that strong C&E is of largely recent origin. But it seems like a good area to explore and it could offer genuine C&E leveraging and be the “next frontier” in the field.

Of course, there is a possible advantage to “staying in your lane.” But on balance I think each area can support the others, and should consider doing so, as I will explore in Part Two.

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