Ever Evolving: The Role of the Ethics Officer

Lora Bentley

Compliance has been a focus for corporate America from the time regulations have been imposed. That focus drew in and became sharper with the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002. The next step is moving beyond compliance to creating an ethical culture. But that's apparently not as easy as it may sound.


In an Accounting SmartPros article, The End of Ethics? Going Beyond Compliance Requirements, attorney David Gebler says the distinct discipline of business ethics is being absorbed by the discipline of effective business management. In the post-Sarbox era, Gebler says,

...ethics officers are seeing the need to influence key business practices that go far beyond awareness of code standards and corporate values.

Ethics involves behavior. To be successful, then, an ethics officer should work behind the scenes to help the "institutional influencers of behavior" to succeed. Who are those influencers? Human resources, communications and organizational development. But ethics isn't ending, he says. It's evolving:

"Ethics" must be the discipline of helping managers and leaders create the culture where raising issues is safe, as well as socially acceptable, and where frustrations stemming from today's business pressures can be safely vented. Helping organizations first assess cultural vulnerabilities and then coordinate functional leaders in communication and training to address these issues is the most valuable role an ethics officer can play.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 23, 2007 3:51 PM David Gebler David Gebler  says:
Thanks for posting my thoughts. Engaging IT professionals in ethics isn't always easy. But helping them create a culture where it's safe to raise difficult issues not only makes the environment more ethical; it alsomakes it more innovative...and fun. Reply
Aug 24, 2007 6:42 PM Brett Curran Brett Curran  says:
This brings up a very important aspect of company wide Governance, Risk and Compliance. The Ethics Officer is well positioned to help create and sustain a state of readiness for compliant and ethical behavior. Working as part of the enterprise governance team, they can help communicate the company codes and tone from the top so that compliant and ethical behaviors are better received and not only pushed out in written form but, can be seen in the day-to-day actions of company management. Among other things, the Ethics Officer then in a sense, is there to help set the tone and grease the skids for driving the behaviors around compliance, ethics and workforce behaviors in general. Reply
Aug 31, 2007 2:06 PM Shahin Shahin  says:
I want to know the scope of your activities and remain apprised of them. Reply
Sep 4, 2007 12:10 PM amit amit  says:
sir, if there is a reson for money then which typ[e of ethics should foolow,because that a moment of confusion that what should be do that tyume of moment Reply

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