First step to ethical culture is trust

First step to ethical culture is trust

Donna Boehme – Compliance & Ethics Professional – April 2015


During a culture assessment for a company that had recently fired some top execs for misconduct, I was surprised when the employees professed confidence in senior management’s adherence to the code of conduct. After drilling down, what we found underscored the direct link between ethical culture, transparency, and trust. Consistently, employees mentioned that the way the bad news was disseminated, including the content of the message, was important. Here, small teams of senior management had met with employees to explain why the execs had been fired. Our conclusion: Management had reversed a culture of skepticism and distrust through this simple strategy.

Would the results have been the same if these sessions had been preceded by Legal (1) displaying a PowerPoint of “naughty words,” (2) requiring each employee to sign a nondisclosure agreement, or (3) instructing that no notes be taken?1 Answers: (1) No!, (2) NO!, and (3) Hell No!!

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