Measuring Ethical Culture: what are the metrics we should all be tracking?

23 January 2023

Tags: Corporate governance, Ethics Programme issues

As we launch our new Good Practice Guide, Rachael Saunders, Deputy Director, considers the metrics we should all be tracking.

In the Good Practice Guide we published today, we set out a wide range of suggested metrics any board or executive could consider when building a dashboard to enable you to track your ethical culture – or the extent to which your organisational values are being lived in practice by colleagues across the organisation. The guide includes the widest possible range of suggestions, because you should track the data points that matter most to you, in the context of your values, what you do, and your baseline – where you are coming from, and what you want to address.

Equally, not everything can be measured, and great leadership is about listening, being present, being curious and asking questions, to understand what you might not be being told.

All that being said, there are some key data points that any business should be able to track, and which would be of value to any organisation as a starting point for measuring culture.

  • Employee wellbeing. Absenteeism rates, sickness rates, staff turnover, the outcomes of a regular employee engagement survey, exit interviews – these data points should be straightforward to collect, and a starting point for conversations about how your people feel about your organisation and its direction.
  • Diversity and inclusion. Build trust so that people are willing to have their demographic data recorded. Calculate your gender and race pay gaps. Check whether your employees represent their community and whether you are fair in who you promote and who gets the opportunities that lead to promotion – training, high-profile projects, whatever indicators are key in your people pipeline. Above all, are you dealing with bullying and harassment? Use employee surveys to find out.
  • Your code of ethics – has everyone in the organisation signed off that they have read and understood it?
  • Ethics enforcement – what are your disciplinary processes and investigations telling you?
  • Speak Up – how many cases are happening, what are the issues, and what satisfaction ratings are the people speaking up giving you at the end of the process?
  • Customer and stakeholder insights – how do you measure your reputation?

With this in mind – what are the absolute core data points that any board member or senior leader ought to be aware of, and able to track?

This is my list – what is yours?

  • Staff turnover rates
  • Gender and race pay gaps
  • Code of Ethics sign ups
  • Speak up reporter satisfaction scores
  • Customer satisfaction scores


Find out more about the guide...



Rachael Saunders
Rachael Saunders

Deputy Director

Rachael is Deputy Director of the Institute and is responsible for our research programme, and our advisory and training services. She is most interested in how research can generate insights that inspire action. 

Rachael has collaborated with senior leaders across business, charities, communities, local and central government. After gaining her first degree in Politics and History from the University of Durham, and a Masters in Gender and Social Policy from the London School of Economics, Rachael worked in Westminster, then for Carers UK, for UNISON, the public sector trade union, and for the TUC, on skills policy. She was at Business in the Community for over ten years, as an expert in workplace diversity and then in education business partnerships. As a Director at BITC, she worked closely with the Department for Work and Pensions, the then Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and business leaders from Aviva, Barclays, Nationwide, UBS, McKinsey and many more.  Her most recent role was on the SLT of Speakers for Schools as it scaled its delivery of opportunities for young people. 

She has held a number of trustee roles including on the board of the Rich Mix Cultural Foundation, the Bromley by Bow Centre and East End Homes. She is currently chair of a charity called Sister System.  She was an elected local councillor for ten years and served as leader of the Labour Group on Tower Hamlets Council. In 2019 Rachael gained an MSc from Birkbeck, University of London, in Business Ethics and Corporate Governance, with a dissertation focussed on how boards communicate their community engagement. 

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