What is the executive team’s top priority?
No prizes for guessing it’s growth, growth and more growth. LRN’s latest report on Ethics and Compliance confirms the C-Suite concern has stayed the same for the last three years—see chart.
Boosting profits, cost cutting and innovation stay well ahead of other concerns. Innovation though, slips to third place shoved aside by worries about efficiency and the need to reduce overheads.
One longs for LRN to understand “less is more”. The annual report is so replete with information, all well-presented and argued, it leaves one exhausted, suffering from survey fatigue.
Even the executive summary runs to seven fairly dense pages. What might have emerged had someone in authority imposed on it the once notorious IBM discipline of never allowing more than one page for an executive summary?
Despite these carping caveats, this survey is essential reading for anyone interested in compliance and leadership issues.
Amongst its findings are
- Transparency is no longer a choice but a reality
- Failures continue as moral authority become the new source of power
- What makes an effective ethics and compliance program becomes ever clearer
- Numerous insights on ethics and compliance from over 180 companies
- LRN recommendations about making ethics and compliance a more vital and integral part of company daily life include:
- Be deliberate and intentional about changes to culture to drive opportunities
- Align ethics and compliance with corporate goals
- Rework the metrics
- Spot dangerous ethical undercurrents
- Redress the balance between the rules and values
- Use everything available to reinforce remind and frame
Of these six suggestions perhaps the most significant is the how values and principles, rather than rules, could play a greater role in how organisations affect their culture. Especially how people behave.
This of course, is something of an obsession of www.ethical-leadership.co.uk. For some time we have been campaigning for a focus on “ethical engagement” and which LRN terms self- governance. 
The LRN study argues:
Companies are increasingly aware that they will get the behaviours they recognise and reward…”
This means doing a better job in two ways: first, by using behavioural goals, secondly supporting these with proper metrics. Both need to be built into how firms judge employee performance.
Several recent posts on this site have questioned the effectiveness of much of the training and investment being made on compliance in even well-resourced companies. LRN has now developed this concern into what it calls Programme Effectivenes Index.
This aims to reveal the key drivers of what makes an effective ethics and compliance program. The results so far show throwing money at the problem simply does not work.
…program effectiveness isn’t tied to how much the program spends, but on how it spends and why.”
The latest survey rightly argues that a values-based culture will produce success through people “not over them”
Without being more explicit, the case against command and control grows ever stronger. As a way of achieving the much-longed for growth ethical engagement is the only sure way for sustained success.
1 See for example
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