One of the sessions at the 2013 InsideCounsel SuperConference is titled “Corporate Culture and Setting the Right Ethical Tone From the Top”—critical concepts in business today. Since last year, when I added leadership of our human resources function to my legal and compliance department responsibilities, I have become even more familiar with the power of “ethical culture,” “tone from the top” and “employee engagement.” What do these concepts mean? How do we define them, practice them, promote them and measure them?
“Ethical culture,” according to the Ethics Resource Center, is about teaching employees “how things are done around here.” It begins with written standards of conduct that are well conceived, carefully crafted and effectively implemented. But to be meaningful, we need more than mere lip service to ethical values. Organizations with strong ethical cultures take steps to ensure that their standards are widely accessible, promoted and followed by their leaders and employees.