Business Ethics Approach

An organisation can only be as ethical as its employees.   Business ethics is essentially about behaviour and “conduct risk.”   We help leaders build ethical organisations by building ethical contexts and skilling employees in workplace ethical decision making and accountability.  Business ethics is about choice. What values guide us? What standards do we use? What principles are at stake? How do choose between them? How will stakeholders be affected?

An ethical approach to any issue will inquire about ends (goals) and means (how we achieve these goals) and the relationship between the two.  Beyond this, ethics involves a consideration of the consequences of our choices from a range of stakeholder perspectives.  At the commercial level, ethics looks at how we choose to succeed in relation to others and in relation to our impacts on others. Business ethics is the depth dimension of any organisation, only truly tested in times of crisis. We work alongside our clients to anticipate ethical risks and work to avoid a gradual slippage into unethical behaviour in the workplace guided by deep lever questions such as:

  • How can leaders create a workplace context were employees know the right thing to do and are rewarded for doing that?
  • How well do our people know why the organisation exists, how it succeeds, how people should be managed and what critical stakeholders expect?
  • Why would employees be afraid to raise issues of concern?

Workplace ethical dilemmas bank – Choices and Consequences
We have developed an ethical dilemma bank of over 300 workplace dilemmas that speak to the typical organizational scenarios employees find themselves in. These cover all sectors and all industries.  They are used as source material to overlay with each organisation’s  unique cultural context – choosing the risk areas and scenarios that best suit each industry and workplace context.

The dilemmas pose several possible resolutions all with specific consequences that need to be considered. They encourage participants to review issues from multiple stakeholder perspectives and encourage participants to make decisions that are informed by the formal polices, including stated values, as well as canvassing the long and short term perspectives.
Leader-led training – DVD based scenarios
We have also developed a library of DVD training materials that enable managers to facilitate ethical training sessions with their teams. Group co-operation in scenario-solving encourages a greater insight into the different perspectives that can co-exist within a team and which can cause its members to misunderstand each other and respond in different ways to similar issues.

Participants quickly learn that, although there may be consensus around a decision, not everyone operates from the same motivations. This reveals the complexity of group dynamics and the need for company policies that set a collective standard that all employees are asked to sign on to.

Relevance: This is the key to employee engagement. We work with leaders to  ensure there is a selection of materials designed for their different workplace levels and their issues.  We focus on the different risks that operate at each level and the differing accountabilities this brings.

Skills Transfer: All our learning programs are based on skills transfer and based on adult learning principles to maximise engagement.  Our experience is that staff need to participate in assessing relevant scenarios in order to contextualise their own meaning, working through their personal responses and how these compare and relate to company policy.

Setting the tone from the top: All materials can be customised to include introductions and commitment statements from senior executives.  Engaging leaders in our ethical leadership workshops signals to all employees that ethics is valued and is integral to the organisation’s ongoing success formula.
Flexibility: All materials are capable of being delivered in various formats including:

  • “Toolbox talks” by immediate managers
  • Face to face workshop with workplace trainers
  • Multimedia or online formats
  • Quizzes

Learning Outcomes
Greater clarity and engagement with formal codes of conduct and codes of ethics.

Heightened understanding of the broad arena of workplace ethics today including conflicts of interest, non-financial risks, fraud, corruption and bullying workplace behaviour.

Heightened understanding of the boundaries between organizational and personal values, where each takes priority and how they shape personal actions.

“Skill development” in ethical decision making to enable employees to respond appropriately informed by the codes of conduct and/or values or codes of ethics.

Business Ethics Training

Leaders, Managers and HR practitioners need to develop the specific skills needed to help employees respond to the ethical challenges that play out every day in business.  Our initiatives are designed to respond to organisational contextual pressures as well as skill employees to manage the system so ethical issues do not emerge.
Engagement is earned by learning:

  • How culture can  blindside employees to  ethical issues in the workplace
  • How employees rationalise and justify unethical actions to themselves
  • How personal accountability can be promoted to safeguard company reputation
  • How issues of concern can be raised safely
  • How workplace contexts can be shaped to promote ethical perspectives.
“Train the Trainers” Program

Designed for appropriately qualified personnel to assist with ethics workshop roll out and to build appropriate expertise within the enterprise.  This module includes:

  • A one day training session focusing on facilitation skills using appropriate workplace dilemmas and case studies
  • A facilitator’s guide – a step by step guide to planning and leading an ethics workshop
  • Practical ideas for implementing the training program including a guide on what to consider in customising materials for specific purposes  including induction programs; management retreats; performance appraisals and coaching sessions

We have designed and facilitated a “Manager of Managers” ethics training program now in its fifth year delivering continuous improvement to this large enterprise. This program involved:

  • the design of a facilitator’s guide
  • train the trainer workshops
  • a dilemmas bank of issues for managers to work with their people
  • supporting e-learning materials

We have designed several engaging and practical business ethics and values module for financial sector graduate intake programs.  Often these modules are developed in conjunction with the organisation’s leadership competency model and learning objectives include:

  • To educate new recruits in the broad field of business ethics and governance and its relevance to their day to day workplace decisions and activities
  • To develop participant skills in identifying possible ethical challenges in the workplace and how to apply ethical problem solving models to resolve these
  • To develop skills in raising ethical issues within an organisational context.

Managerial and Employee Level

Fraud and Risk Training

We take a cultural approach to fraud and risk training recognising that a compliance approach does not engage the hearts and minds of employees and leaves employers at risk.

Our strategy here includes:

  • Implementation of proper guidelines and policies (setting the tone from the top)
  • Continuous employee education in cultural and stakeholder risk management
  • Whistleblowing procedures via Fraud Awareness Workshops
  • Constant identification and prioritization of fraud risks
  • Ongoing evaluation of mitigating controls
  • Continuous monitoring

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