IBE challenges business to reappraise the way it promotes business ethics

IBE news
22 September 2021

Tags: Corporate governance, Ethics Programme issues

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. 

Following recent corporate crises (Carillion, BHS, Patisserie Valerie amongst others) and the new work environment resulting from the Covid pandemic, 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. 

Drawing on IBE research and the knowledge built up through working with a variety of organisations, the paper examines some of the key issues and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches. 

Some key considerations include:

  • The role of the board. Should there be a committee, or a particular board member, with explicit responsibility for ethical issues and ethical culture? How can you maximise engagement between ethics functions and the board?
  • Reporting lines. Does the ethics function have the means to communicate effectively ‘upwards’, i.e. with the CEO and board, and ‘downward’, i.e. with the staff on the ground -for example, to promote the code of ethics, or to communicate Speak Up procedures?
  • Structure and positioning of the ethics function. Should your organisation have a standalone ethics function? Does the positioning of ethics within the organisation facilitate access to senior executives and the board? 
  • Scope and role of the ethics function, and relationship with other functions. What are the ethics team’s operational responsibilities and how do they go about them? Is the position and scope of the ethics function tailored to the specific needs and risk profile of your organisation and sector?
  • Resourcing. Is the ethics function appropriately resourced in terms of funding and personnel? Is the ethics team diverse in terms of professional background? Could a network of ethics ambassadors benefit your organisation? 

IBE Director Dr. Ian Peters, MBE, said: “As ethics issues and challenges drive reputational considerations for businesses - particularly in the wake of the pandemic - organisations need to ask themselves some important questions to ensure that ethics programmes are organised effectively. 

“There is no one-size-fits all solution for organising for ethics, but there are clear considerations to optimise for ethics, including how the board organises itself to ensure that it has appropriate oversight. A good relationship between the board and the ethics team, underpinned by purpose, values, strategy, and culture, is vital.”

For further information, contact Laura Petty, Communications Manager.

Download the paper here...

 

About the IBE:
The Institute of Business Ethics’ purpose is to champion the highest standards of ethical behaviour in business. 

For over 30 years, the IBE has advised organisations on how to strengthen their ethical culture by sharing knowledge and good practice, research, training and networking. 

The IBE is a registered charity funded by corporate and individual supporters. 

www.ibe.org.uk 
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