Teaching Ethics with Real-Life Scenarios

Do you have a compliance and ethics program (CEP) that fails to address ethics? While we are particularly good at developing policies and training to help our business partners traverse the minefield of constantly changing laws and regulations, at times we can lose focus on the ethics component. Ethical decision-making is not synonymous with compliance with laws--it is bigger. Our own code of conduct is a testament to this point: Lawyers are expected to do the right thing even if the law permits different behavior.

Similarly, great companies are guided by values such as integrity and ethics. We have too many examples where corporate troubles ensued from a culture setting the behavioral expectation at compliance with laws (i.e., "As long as it's legal..."). As John C. Maxwell wrote in his book, There's No Such Thing As "Business" Ethics, ethical behavior cannot be inspired or even directed through legal compliance mandates. Maxwell asks: "Where can you find a standard that will work in every situation--a guide that will help you to sleep well at night, prosper in business, improve your marriage, and have confidence that you're doing all you can every time?" Maxwell's question compels focus upon the ethics aspects of our CEPs.

Brian Martin

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