A board's core purpose is to promote the long-term success of the company in line with its values. Boards that embrace ethical standards explicitly in the way they and the company operate are best placed to achieve the durable benefits that come from doing business ethically. 

The board is the forum for reviewing holistically the organisation's stakeholder relationships. In reality, it is the only forum, as it directs the company's purpose, business model and strategy.


IBE Guidance

A summary of good practice
  • It is imperative that the board review is based on the organisation's values. These are the foundation as to how business is done whatever the situation.
  • Values are not just about ensuring good behaviour by employees. They are also important support in decision-making. Boards frequently have to make difficult decisions and address problems for which there is no absolutely right answer, for example in considering executive remuneration, or the use of artificial intelligence. A clearly articulated and consistently applied set of values will help guide boards in their decision-making.
  • Directors also need to have a clear set of policies on topics such as managing conflicts of interest; financial reporting; and its dealings with stakeholders, amongst others.
  • As the board has responsiblity for the organisation's culture, it is good practice to establish a board level committee with oversight for establishing, reinforcing and monitoring the ethics policy and identifying ethical risks and opportunities.


Further resources 

Publication type: Business ethics briefing

Organising for Ethics Discussion Paper

There is no single blueprint for exactly what a good ethics function looks like, but there are certain elements that are key, we outline some of these in our latest publication.

22 September 2021

IBE news

IBE challenges business to reappraise the way it promotes business ethics

The IBE has published a discussion paper, Organising for Ethics, which poses a series of questions and challenges for people involved in ethics functions at all levels, including the board. 

22 September 2021


IBE Lecture with Sir Jonathan Thompson

View our webinar recording.

17 September 2021


From aspiration to action? Reflections on The Ethics Study 2021

The Ethics Study author, Rob Hayward, shares his personal reflections in our latest guest blog.

15 April 2021


Building Back – Ethically

Dr Ian Peters' article for One magazine on culture and reputational challenges for all organisations. Putting values at the heart of purpose.

25 March 2021


Decisions, decisions…

Read the latest blog by Mark Chambers, IBE's Associate Director (Governance).

11 March 2021


Rotten: Why Corporate Misconduct Continues and What to Do about It

View the recording of our webinar.

14 January 2021


Public standards remain crucial for private sector providers 

Lord Evans, Chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, discusses how public standards remain crucial for private sector providers.

24 November 2020


Mark Chambers Podcast with Black Sun plc: Board-level discussions on purpose

IBE's Associate Director, Mark Chambers talks with Black Sun about company purpose.

22 September 2020


#PandemicAndBeyond - In conversation with... Michael Coates, Shell CECO

In the next blog of the series, Pandemic and Beyond: the ethical issues, Shell CECO Michael Coates discusses his first year in the role and shares meaningful insights on prioritising ethics during this challenging period.

16 September 2020


Ethical culture doesn’t exist on its own!

Read the blog by our Chair, Prof. David Grayson CBE.

12 August 2020


"Uncharted" IBE webinar with Margaret Heffernan

View the recording of our webinar.

09 July 2020


Culture Shock

Read the blog by William O’Connor, IBE's Research Assistant.

08 July 2020


Ethics: a risky business?

Read the blog by Prof. Chris Cowton, IBE’s Associate Director (Research).

25 June 2020


Perspective matters - putting a values-based business model at the heart of reporting and governance

Read the blog by Mark Chambers, IBE's Associate Director (Governance).

10 June 2020


Guest blog: Reputation

Read a guest blog from Francis Ingham, PRCA's Director General.

04 June 2020


In conversation with… Mark Chambers, Associate Director (Governance) of the IBE

In the final blog of the series we round up with IBE’s Mark Chambers.

15 April 2020


In conversation with… Henri Van Elewyck, Group Senior Vice President Ethics and Responsible Business Conduct of Sodexo

In the penultimate blog of the Embedding Business Ethics series we're in conversation with Henri Van Elewyck, Group Senior Vice President Ethics and Responsible Business Conduct of Sodexo.

08 April 2020


Doing business ethically in a time of coronavirus

Our Chair, Prof. David Grayson CBE discusses doing business ethically in a time of coronavirus in the latest IBE blog.

06 April 2020

Publication type: Survey

Embedding Business Ethics: 2020 report on corporate ethics policies and programmes

This report is the ninth in the triennial series looking at corporate ethics policies and programmes. It is the IBE’s longest-running survey series, and continues to give valuable insights into how companies run their ethics programmes.

01 April 2020

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