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Sunday, June 26, 2011
The journey toward values-based cultures — are you on the way?
Culture, values and leadership are critical priorities for business leaders. No matter how many resources your company deploys, how many experts you retain and no matter how many programmes you run, little matters if you’re not reaching your global workforce at heart, mind and gut level.
Companies are grasping this and embracing values-based corporate cultures, governance and leadership as new sources of advantage. In the USA, Southwest Airlines, Zappos and Google are leading the way, demonstrating the benefits of values-based behaviour.
What are some ways your company can advance its ethical journey?
Treat culture as a strategy: An ethical culture is not created by accident. It is deliberately crafted at many levels of the organisation under the guidance of leaders who hard-wire it into the processes and practices by which business gets done.
To make ethical considerations truly central to operations, ethics and compliance must expand beyond education and communications and encompass the wide variety of corporate practices, including performance appraisals, promotion and recruiting practices.
Seek better alignment and purpose: Ethics and compliance programmes serve a distinct purpose, but they cannot adequately fulfil that role unless they help reinforce corporate priorities. They fall short if they operate in isolation from rapidly shifting business needs and conditions.
Seek partners beyond your traditional domain: Ethics and compliance leaders can extend their influence and better fulfil their mandate by building deeper partnerships with business units, human resources, corporate communications, and environmental and social responsibility departments. Isolated compliance and ethics functions will never reach the hearts and minds of employees.
Culture as a strategy, fuelled by values that are translated into tangible behaviours and embedded in the gears of a business, can create a sustained competitive advantage in the marketplace. Ethical cultures are not created overnight. But ultimately, tomorrow’s winners will be those who invest in systems inspired by values-based culture.