Six Steps to an Ethical Business Culture

Last Updated Apr 22, 2008 12:46 PM EDT

A recent white paper from Allegiance, a company which provides what they call Enterprise Feedback Management, attempts to outline a plan for creating an ethical business culture in six steps:
  1. Establish an enforceable code of conduct.
  2. Initial and ongoing training.
  3. Regular communications.
  4. Anonymous reporting hotline.
  5. Enforcement/Action.
  6. Rewarding employees that live the culture.
If you follow these steps, as Allegiance COO Greg Heaps says in this article, your company "will be rewarded with the risk of less risk, less fraud, less litigation, and happier employees."

On the whole, this sounds like a sound plan, as reasonable as any paper plan can be before you get into the messy deal of implementation. With one exception - this last concept of rewarding employees that live the culture.

Do we really need to reward those who behave appropriately with a treat? When did we become puppies who sit, or kids who do their homework? The reward of ethical behavior is to keep your job and continue advancing your career. If you behave ethically, I commend you. But you don't deserve a cookie.

Or am I wrong? Should ethics be rewarded? Or is it to be expected? We punish those who cross the ethical line. Should we then reward those who walk it?

Agree with me, or argue against me, in the comments section. I'm very interested to hear what readers have to say on this issue.

Have an ethics issue you'd like to see discussed here? Email wherestheline (at) gmail.com
  • William Baker

    William Baker is a freelance writer living in Cambridge, MA. His work has appeared in Popular Science, the Boston Globe Magazine, the New York Daily News, Boston Magazine, The Weekly Dig and a bunch of other places (including Field & Stream, though he doesn't hunt and can't really fish). He is a regular contributor to the Boston Globe, where he writes the weekly column, "Meeting the Minds." He holds a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and is at work on his first book.

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