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Building a culture of Integrity & Ethics
Integrity and ethics is not accidental. Its a conscious effort. It's the first step towards build a long-term, sustainable business.

Integrity. Ethics. Honesty. Fairness.

You should be able to raise your head and highlight these attributes as part of your brand itself. Today, Tata businesses in India and outside, evoke this kind of response. Or think of Apple and 3M, that are trusted by millions worldwide. According to one highly regarded research, world's most ethical companies outperformed their peer group by 12.3% in terms of market-cap between Jan 2019-Jan 2024.

Words like "ethics" sound familiar but often organizations could be lured into thinking "We believe in all this. So, what's new?" The problem is that with hundreds or thousands of employees in your company, and working in multiple businesses/geographies, instilling a common set of behaviors in this regard is not easy as it sounds. Each can have his/her own interpretation because of one's own value system. For example, consider pushing sales when the customer is still not fully convinced or hiding a crucial piece of information from him/her. Is it fine with you or a breach of integrity? Or consider someone quietly exploiting the performance management system to help a friend. How about offering a gift or lunch to influence a decision--where are the boundaries? What exactly constitutes harassment? These are the kind of questions which need clear expectations. They also need to stand public scrutiny, especially in the age of social media where hidden skeletons tumble out sooner or later.

Thus its advisable to avoid any corporate mishaps that can hurt your brand or even the company because of any integrity/ethics breach.

Solution? We suggest following approach:

  • Develop a practical, actionable integrity and ethics manual. Since it involves impact on multiple stakeholders--customers, employees, suppliers, investors, and society at large--we need to think deeply on multiple issues.

  • Every employee and even directors must sign off after reading it, absorbing its soul and intent. A quick training is beneficial to allow people to ask questions and address their concerns.

  • Develop a clear mechanism to handle different types of violations.

  • Conduct an annual anonymous survey with all the key stakeholders to develop an action plan, to improve your scores. As data flows in, set aspirational goals.

  • Over time, update/refresh your expectations in the light of any new developments or legislations. Learn from the best practices of other organizations and consider adopting them.

Develop a sense of pride in the employees around integrity & ethics in your company.

Let's future-proof your company from any problems concerning integrity and ethics, and build a trusted brand that shines everywhere.

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