Every crisis is an opportunity

Excerpts of paintings on this website are the copyright of - and credited to - Kjell Folkvord - with his permission.

In an article for the Institute of Business Ethics, four well-respected ethics practitioners (Sally March, Jane Mitchell, Robert Smith and Ruth Steinholtz) argue that now is the time for ethics and compliance practitioners to lift their horizons, leverage their unique perspective of risk, governance and sustainability across their organisations, and take a more central role in addressing today’s business challenges. The alignment of purpose, values and culture will be fundamental for longer-term business success, and ethics and compliance functions can earn their seat at the top table by helping their boards and leadership teams bring that alignment to life.

The pandemic has forced businesses to reflect on purpose and values as well as strategies and objectives. It has brought to the fore the need for companies to treat their workforce in a way that is empathetic, fair and transparent. It has also been empowering, allowing individuals to climb out of the constraints of their roles and challenge established approaches. Ethics and compliance professionals have a huge role to play in influencing and encouraging colleagues to do the right thing. Homeworking has required much greater levels of trust and it has been more important than ever for organisations to be listening and learning when colleagues speak up, and to be actively monitoring their welfare.

Breaking down silos and connecting the dots across the organisation has never been more important. But to earn their seat at the table and make this happen, ethics and compliance practitioners also need to redefine their roles and recognise the need for new ways of thinking, towards those based on trust rather than the traditional focus on control. The article ends with a suggested set of actions for individuals to make the most of the opportunity.

More: ibe.org.uk/resource/article-covid19crisisoropportunity.html – including the full article (PDF).