Business Ethics

Rules, regulations, processes and compliance are all words that carry serious and important meaning.  These are all things to take seriously.  At Memeology we help organisations to improve their effectiveness, by balancing these with personal ethics in the corporate culture.  At the end of the day:

‘If corporate culture is rotten, compliance controls will not work: culture and behaviour trump process’ – Institute of Business Ethics

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Business Ethics at an organisational level provides a framework, through Codes of Conduct and Compliance Initiatives to help guide employees to  routinely ‘do the right thing’ in circumstances where they face conflicts of interest in their day-to-day decision making.  Doing the right thing happens because people make good judgments and apply their personal ethics well.  Of course, business and personal ethics are two sides of the same coin.  In our experience though, most large organisations invest much more heavily in Codes of Conduct and Compliance; the framework for ethics, without helping people to embed and implement their personal ethics.  Click here to read more about what we mean by personal ethics.

At Memeology we run Business Ethics workshops and training programmes using case studies with real examples of the dilemmas people face.  This means they become familiar with the issues to watch out for and get the opportunity to practice in a safe environment.  We also augment this training with direct support for ethics and compliance teams by providing an external ethics ombudsman service to bring impartiality to ethics reviews, judgments and decision making.

Some useful background

To abide by the law is mandatory.  The law enshrines, through the political and democratic process all those things that society decides it wishes to be held accountable for.  This collection of laws, rules and regulations, plus those things over which we use our discretion provide the moral framework for society.  At Memeology, we explore with individual people and teams all those day-to-day issues and dilemmas, over which they have some discretion, and have to make judgments as to the correct or most effective course of action.

The first priority is to protect: to protect the integrity and reputation of the organisation and its people.  The cost to governments and corporations of getting ethical behaviour wrong can run into hundreds of millions of pounds.  In some spectacular cases the fines and loss of business, for example, can reach billions.  Think about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill for BP, which is no longer allowed to explore for oil in the US – never mind the cost of reparations.  Other recent examples include the banking crisis – over-selling, Libor rate fixing and uncontrolled lending, corporation tax avoidance by large corporates, expenses scandals and phone hacking.  The common denominator in all these examples is the poor ethical judgment made by individual people at all executive and operational levels.  What seemed like a good idea at the time had disastrous consequences.  On the face of it, there is a cultural link here, both at an organisational and societal level.  It is at this very high, conceptual level where organisations need to invest in development programmes to improve the cultural memes within organisations.

Call us today to discuss bespoke programmes on business and personal ethics that support your organisational objectives and protect against integrity risk.