One key to creating an ethical company is a culture where employees are not afraid to speak out, according to a report from the Ethisphere Institute, the organization that compiles the “World's Most Ethical Companies” list each year.
The report was released after a one-day workshop organized by Ethisphere, AECOM, and General Electric last June. It features insight shared by communications leaders from companies such as AECOM, GE, Aflac, Edelman, the Panama Canal Authority, engineering and construction firm Fluor, and real estate service provider Realogy.
“Ethics is one of those topics that when you claim you have it, people start to doubt that you do,” GE communications and public affairs VP Gary Sheffer said at the workshop. “You can't be sort of transparent or have a little integrity – you have to be all in.”
One of the key takeaways from the workshop is the importance of internal communications in building ethical companies. Company leaders should “create a culture where employees feel comfortable speaking out against unethical behavior,” the report stated. For example, Fluor launched a 24-hour external hotline for employees to report unethical behavior. AECOM regularly includes features about ethics and compliance on its intranet site, and it also holds live training sessions on the topic.
“There's a huge appetite for this kind of dialogue,” said AECOM SVP and CCO Paul Gennaro.
He encouraged people to reach out to the workshop participants to discuss ethics or share questions and concerns.
Ethisphere will hold its second annual “Ethics in Communications Best Practices” workshop this May in New York City.