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GRC Professional : GRC Summer 2012
IN THE OFFICE 33 Business ethics training Many global corporations now incorporate ethics training into their compliance programs as they recognise the need to establish a culture where people do the right thing because it is the right thing, rather than because a book of rules says it is. BY DR ATTRACTA LAGAN AND BRIAN MORAN, PRINCIPALS, MANAGING VALUES ETHICS TRAINING IS DESIGNED TO assist employees and managers to recognise the essentially human behavior that shapes cultural challenges and business imperatives and decide how decisions are made. It is designed to skill, empower and challenge employees to review their typical responses to ethical challenges and, by canvassing different options, identify different options. The best programs are anchored in the real ethical dilemmas that play out at work and which make each workplace unique. Participants are encouraged to discuss and reflect on the systemic issues that give rise to ethical concerns, before identifying the course of action that best suits the business needs while safeguarding the organisation’s overall integrity. The compliance function can sometimes find itself a victim of informal cultural phenomena, which can often relegate compliance professionals to subordinate roles in the organisational hierarchy. This can isolate the compliance professional and make them reluctant to raise issues in fear of retaliation. Enron’s famous whistleblower, Sherron Watkins, is probably the poster child of such cultural phenomena. When she first raised concerns around possible accounting frauds, Enron’s CEO’s response was to seek the legal counsel’s advice about how best to fire her! The legal counsel, knowing that by this stage questions were being asked in some quarters about Enron’s business model, argued that she should remain but be ‘managed’ instead. She stayed for a further two years while the company collapsed around her. Ms Watkins’ account left no doubt that it started from the top where the leadership team completely abdicated any responsibility for setting the ethical tone. This was then fuelled by bullying behaviour at senior levels and fanned by a reward system that focused on financial results and market manipulation. The result was the emergence of an organisational culture where, in Ms Watkins’ words, “corruption spread like a sexually-transmitted disease”. On the other hand, organisations can establish a positive culture for ethics. Managing Values recently completed a The best programs are anchored in the real ethical dilemmas that play out at work.
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GRC Autumn 2012