A successful and robust corporate compliance and ethics program will have a blended focus on rules-based and values-based controls. Taking an integrated approach to performance and conduct is necessary in order to facilitate awareness of and adherence to compliance risk management efforts and expectations. Rules and values cannot be separated, and should indeed be balanced together to make the most compelling call to action by employees and management.
Legal and regulatory guidelines and company policies and procedures form a clear foundation for the rules and make up the structural, mandatory portion of a compliance program. Deriving this from external and internal requirements is somewhat straightforward and can be accomplished with methodical planning and continuous updating and education.
Values, on the other hand, form the ethics discipline and come from the moral codes of individuals and the commitments to integrity made by the organizations within which they work. While more resistant to obsolescence than rules and regulations, values are far more challenging to identify and express, and even harder to imbed authentically and sustainability within a corporate culture. Values provide the voluntary motivation for doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason, despite forces or interests that may impede or work against that, and including when taking this action requires inaction.
Therefore successful compliance professionals will rely upon the basis provided by rules, while evoking the emotional and personal appeal of values. Providing incentives for inner success and enabling individuals to make ethical decisions and act with integrity gives purpose to employees and credibility to organizations.
The below TED/TEDx talks emphasize the importance of values-led people and organizations and the ways they impact society, interpret ethics, and define success.
- Why we need core values (James Franklin) – Similar to earlier TED/TEDx lectures shared on this blog, ethics in organizations and society in general begin with individuals. In order for individuals to define the internal moral registers and inform their ethical perspectives based upon them, they need to establish personal core values first. Adopting core values – inalienable individual ideas about right and wrong – is crucial in approaching life and work with purpose and conviction. Understanding core values helps to move on from failures productively, build on successes sustainably, and improve all relationships and ambitions. Individuals as well as the communities in which they live and organizations in which they work can all benefit from planning and mission statements which are grounded in individual articulated core values.
- The transformative power of values at work (Mika Korhonen) – Well-meaning human resources managers and consultants can too easily lose the root of employee motivation and awareness efforts – that employees are people too. The person an employee is outside of work, and the values he or she possesses in private life, must be leveraged in the workplace to create genuine engagement in both compliance culture and in daily work in general. Leadership and growth requires resilience to change, endurance through adversity, and cultural and social flexibility. All of these competencies are grounded in personal values which are practiced and supported on a daily basis in the workplace. Creating a positive, values-based environment enables a workplace that is productive and prepared to focus on positive impact consistent with ethics and integrity.
- Happiness – building a values led organization (Esther McMorris) – Ethical motivation is one of the distinctions between management and leadership. Managers who do not embrace a values-driven purpose do not establish credibility as leaders. On the other hand, ethical leadership that models exemplary conduct, supports integrity, and takes action against dishonesty or malfeasance, strikes an effective path toward engaged and effective management. Managers who are also leaders can approach their employees and partners with respect and purpose, allowing individuals to be true to the values that guide them. In this environment, true engagement and satisfaction is possible, giving way to happiness through values-led work
- Values change everything (Itzhak Fisher) – Culture, values, and leadership are the foundation of all change in life, work, and society. When all three of these are approached together with a strong ethical predisposition, then the resulting change can be directed positively and productively. In instances where integrity is lacking, however, and these three forces are not in balance, then change is negative and feels disruptive, scary, and threatening. Transforming and adapting are inevitable. Surviving these, however, and sustaining through them with the individual and the organization’s identities intact, can be done in reliance upon strong values and the purpose that comes from them.
- The power of why and value driven behavior (Martha Kold Bakkevig) – A lot of change in life and business is motivated by external forces – competitive pressures, evolving regulatory requirements, new stakeholder expectations, political or economic trends. These changes happen to, or despite, people and organizations. However, it’s also possible that these changes can come from an internal, organic motivation as well, a dedication to evolve for the sake of disrupting the status quo and servicing the values that drive one’s purpose and ambition.
Values-led people and organizations will form a culture of compliance with the strongest incentives for ethical decision-making and a prevailing emphasis on integrity, purpose, and inner success. Taken together with a strong controls framework to incorporate rules-based compliance foundations, an emphasis on values will give credibility and authenticity to corporate governance and strategy.