Ethical working

By Sjoerd Hogenbirk

Ethical working involves linking desired moral behavior to achieving performance. This includes taking responsibility for people and society when it comes to sustainability in the broadest sense of the word. It also involves the use and interpretation of data and the deployment of technology in digital transformations.

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What is Ethical Working?

The way a performance is achieved is just as important as the performance itself.

Company ethics is about ethical conduct, doing what is right, in the context of work. We see a tension between integrity on one hand and performance pressure on the other. Because how do values hold up under deadlines, perverse incentives, and incorrect role modeling?

So, ethical working for us means linking desired moral behavior to achieving performance.

The Core of Ethical Working

Change Management
A compliance program focuses on behavioral change. Therefore, a compliance program is also a change program. Knowledge of change management is crucial.

Moral Sensitivity
The world around us is changing rapidly, making the standard of tomorrow hardly captured in legislation. That's why stimulating moral sensitivity in individual employees is so important.

Innovation and Effectiveness
Recent research shows that an innovative compliance program aligns better with the standard of tomorrow and leads to more ethical behavior. Innovation and effectiveness go hand in hand.

By working ethically, you can:

  • Increase the moral sensitivity of employees, enabling them to better anticipate the standard of tomorrow.
  • Reduce reputational risk for your organization, preventing image damage, financial loss, or worse.

De morele sensitiviteit

"Something can be done, something may be done, but should you want to do it? As an organization, it's wise to keep discussing this continuously."

Compliance is quite clear. Legally, something may or may not be done. But business ethics is more of a gray area. Something can be done, something may be done, but should you want to do it? This is where an individual's moral sensitivity comes into play to make a proper assessment. 

As an organization, it's wise to keep discussing this continuously. If you don't, there's a reputational risk with all its consequences. The way a performance is achieved is just as important as the performance itself.

Moral Leadership

"If leaders don't exhibit ethical behavior, why would employees stay within the lines?"

Behavior is difficult to enforce, but a good example is contagious. And it starts at the top. Because if leaders don't exhibit ethical behavior, why would employees stay within the lines? As a leader, it's essential to demonstrate the right exemplary behavior, as various studies show. Therefore, an ethical committee, where integrity issues are discussed, should be positioned as high as possible in the organization.

The Social Norm of Tomorrow

Technological developments such as digitization, big data, robotics, and artificial intelligence are advancing rapidly, mainly within the business world. The social norm of tomorrow is thus mainly developed within companies. This results in organizations having a greater influence on the moral and societal agenda, which comes with significant responsibility. Therefore, demonstrating moral leadership is crucial at the organizational level.

Do you want to lead your business transformation in an ethical way? And do you want to ensure this is embedded in your vision and approach to change? Feel free to contact me for an informal conversation.

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Contact Sjoerd

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