A quick 4 question Q&A prior to the 6th Annual Bled Compliance and Ethics Conference – with Andrijana Bergant – President of EICE – the European Institute for Compliance and Ethics:
[Andrijana Bergant] – What are in your opinion most important lessons from current corona crises for compliance officers and business leaders to benefit from?
[Ruth Steinholtz] It is even more important than ever to stop using the title, compliance officer! CoVid has meant people are focusing on values and on what they see as the fundamental things that are important in life. Processes and procedures, though necessary for legal and organisational reasons, are not the best way to motivate people to do the right thing. Business leaders and people working in the integrity field in various roles must motivate and inspire people to want to do the right thing. So, finding a better balance between ethics and integrity on the one hand, and compliance on the other is key. Another lesson is that we must be flexible and resilient and spend time creating workable approaches to crisis management. This will not be the last time we experience an unanticipated major event. Lets do a better job preparing for the unexpected!
[Andrijana Bergant] Do you think that this crisis have specific impact on organizational culture and business ethics specifically? And what is the outlook in this perspective past corona in your opinion?
[Ruth Steinholtz] Yes, I do think it will have an impact on both organizational culture and business ethics. For one thing, we are likely to move into a world where some people work from home all of the time, others from the office all of the time, and others do both. This will bring new challenges for creating a cohesive organisational culture. Values will become even more important, and a great deal of thought will be needed to ensure that everyone feels part of the company. Otherwise, unethical behaviour will rise, as people feel disengaged.
At this point, I am optimistic. Moving to remote working has actually increased communication and good ideas are spreading more rapidly as a result. It is too early to tell if we will see an increase in unethical behaviour overall. The only thing I can say with certainty is that companies that have not treated their employees well during this period are likely to experience an increase, assuming they survive.
[Andrijana Bergant] What concrete projects are you currently working on in your practice?
[Ruth Steinholtz] I am working hard to spread the word about Ethical Business Practice and Regulation – the topic of the book I co-authored with Professor Chris Hodges of Oxford University. Built on the foundation of research showing that deterrence and punishment are not effective ways to change future behaviour; we are working with both regulators and businesses to stimulate new ways of thinking about the role of culture and values. I am also working with a variety of different types of organisations to measure their culture and identify their core values.
[Andrijana Bergant] What is your message for attendants of the 6th Annual Conference on Compliance and Ethics?
[Ruth Steinholtz] It is time to broaden your skill set! It is no longer sufficient (if it ever was) to a good drafter of policies or creator of procedures. Compliance is an outcome, not an approach. It is an outcome of an effective (ethical) culture. Be curious. Read about behavioural ethics. Ethics is everyone’s responsibility; that is why I created the concept of ethics (integrity) ambassadors. Come and find out how a network of employee ambassadors can help you make a difference! I’m looking forward to the Conference. And I hope to see you there.