Corporate financial scandals have highlighted the importance of business ethics and legal compliance. Yet, a National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) survey of 280 corporate CEOs and directors found that “only one of three directors felt that they were highly effective in ensuring legal compliance“. Do you know how important a business ethics program is? Better yet, do you know how to build one?
Most companies realize that they need to develop and implement a business ethics and compliance program. An effective program can:
But how do you build an effective program, while making compliance easier for everyone to achieve?
Companies find themselves with three options to build an ethics program:
And most of these companies learn a few lessons – sometimes the hard way.
Developing an ethics program from scratch can be very time consuming and costly. Also, the company might not have the knowledge or understanding of the complexity involved. But hiring an external consultant is not always a cost effective option either. So what’s left?
By using a pre-written template or manual, many companies have found it easier to develop their business ethics program. And to do this, they look for what a strong program needs. A highly effective tool for creating, organizing and implementing a sound business ethics and compliance program should provide:
If the company board has committed to a strong business ethics and compliance program, the next step is to put the manual in the hands of corporate executives responsible for implementation. Used properly under advice of legal counsel, this efficient tool will yield a solid program that the board can understand, endorse, and monitor for effectiveness.
With step-by-step guidelines and accompanying examples of policies, procedures, a training program and an employee survey, such an effective tool provides an excellent road map for implementing an ethics and compliance initiative.
Companies should make certain that their ethics compliance manual provides fully editable MS Word files with sample policies, surveys, forms, and training session outlines. Also, businesses should ensure their ethics compliance system manual is fully endorsed by The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) as a tool to maintain a culture of integrity.