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Integrity - use of values or principles to guide action in the situation at hand.

Below are links and discussion related to the values of freedom, hope, trust, privacy, responsibility, safety, and well-being, within business and government situations arising in the areas of security, privacy, technology, corporate governance, sustainability, and CSR.

Creating an Ethics Curriculum, 19.7.07

Working Values

Companies can dramatically improve their ability to effect behavior change when they develop an ethics training curriculum aimed at building ethical leadership and culture building skills throughout the organization. The training should focus on developing ethical decision-making skills, promoting open communication, encouraging role modeling and communicating with respect.

Recent Ethics Resource Center (ERC) data shows that an increasing number of companies have ethics programs and provide training:

  • Written standards of conduct are up by 19 percent.
  • Training on ethics has increased by 32 percent.
  • Mechanisms to seek ethics advice or information are being instituted at an increase of 15 percent.
  • Means to report misconduct anonymously is up by 7 percent.
  • Discipline of employees who violate ethical standards is up by 4 percent.
However, the ERC reports that this increase in training has not improved outcomes:
  • In 2005, 52 percent of employees observed at least one type of misconduct taking place.
  • Employee willingness to report misconduct declined in 2005. Of employees who observed misconduct at work in 2005, just over one half (55 percent) reported it to management. This represents a 10 percentage point decrease since 2003 and demonstrates backsliding to levels similar to those in 2000.
  • There is little change in pressure to compromise standards in 2005 -- 10 percent of employees feel this pressure always or fairly often, a level similar to that reported in the earlier year.

Source: Ethics Resource Center, National Business Ethics Survey

The data suggests that while incidences of misconduct persist, employees are less apt to report them, despite an increase in ethics training and reporting mechanisms in the workplace. Why is there so little correlation between the implementation of ethics programs and an employee's willingness to speak up when they observe or suspect a violation?

For most companies, ethics training is still predominantly a "check the box" program focusing on compliance with the law. It's crucial that companies ensure compliance, but making sure that employees know the rules is no guarantee they will follow them. Building a culture that institutes, promotes and helps employees maintain ethical behavior in the workplace necessitates a different method of training – a differentiated curriculum targeted at specific audiences within the organization and training on specific skill sets for these audiences.

This kind of training demonstrates that ethics is valued at all levels of the organization. Senior leaders can be trained in five-minute increments or modules to facilitate ease of use and the efficient use of time for learners who are chronically short of time. Skills should include open communication and specific behaviors for modeling tone at the top.

Managers need to be trained in open communication and skills and competencies to support a culture of ethics within their departments and teams. They need to learn how to demonstrate specific behaviors for modeling ethical behavior in the workplace.

Employees can be trained to use a company-wide decision making process or model to help them remember and practice where and how to provide feedback to managers or supervisors. The model can also direct employees on where and how to report workplace issues. Training in specific listening and communication skills help to promote open communication with managers, supervisors and peers.

A company-wide discovery process should be undertaken to understand the specific culture within the organization and articulate its business objectives in relation to ethical behavior. After the discovery process, the findings can be woven into the ethics training curriculum to meet the particular needs of that organization.

Organizations can build an ethics curriculum that will:

  • Build ethical leadership skills and at all levels of the organization -- not just teach policies and procedures;
  • Reflect the culture of the organization;
  • Be engaging and immediately applicable to learners;
  • Connect business objectives to ethics training;
  • Promote open communication and teach the skills necessary to achieve it; and
  • Provide tools for integrating learning into the workplace.

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U.K. commissioner blames CEOs for data breaches, 11.7.07

CNET News.com

The United Kingdom's information commissioner is calling on chief executives to take the security of customer and staff information more seriously.

'The roll call of banks, retailers, government departments, public bodies and other organizations which have admitted serious security lapses is frankly horrifying,' Richard Thomas wrote in a report. 'How can laptops holding details of customer accounts be used away from the office without strong encryption? How can millions of store card transactions fall into the wrong hands?'

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) received almost 24,000 inquiries and complaints concerning personal information, and it prosecuted 16 individuals and organizations in the past 12 months, according to its annual report for 2006 and 2007.

'Be sure you are not the business or political leader who failed to take information rights seriously.'

Richard Thomas, information commissioner, United Kingdom: 'My message to those at the top of organizations is to respect the privacy of individuals and the integrity of the information held about them, to embrace data protection positively, and to be sure you are not the business or political leader who failed to take information rights seriously.'

The ICO received complaints under both the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act.

More than half of Data Protection Act cases required the ICO to simply provide advice and guidance, while a breach was likely to have happened in more than a third of cases, of which a further 77 percent resulted in remedial actions such as correcting an individual's record or training staff.

The ICO received almost 6,000 complaints under the Freedom of Information Act and has closed more than three-fourths of those.

Public awareness of data protection rights has increased to 82 percent, with more people understanding that personal information must be handled appropriately, according to the report.

The information commissioner's plea follows a number of security breaches over the last year, including 12 U.K. banks found to be in breach of the Data Protection Act, following complaints about the disposal of customer information.

U.K. bank Barclays is facing an ICO investigation over allegations of customer privacy breaches, and telecommunications provider Orange and retailer Littlewoods were also found to be in breach of the Data Protection Act by the ICO this year.

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Integrity Incorporated

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"We shall need compromises in the days ahead, to be sure. But these will be, or should be, compromises of issues, not principles. We can compromise our political positions, but not ourselves. We can resolve the clash of interests without conceding our ideals. And even the necessity for the right kind of compromise does not eliminate the need for those idealists and reformers who keep our compromises moving ahead, who prevent all political situations from meeting the description supplied by Shaw: "smirched with compromise, rotted with opportunism, mildewed by expedience, stretched out of shape with wirepulling and putrefied with permeation.
Compromise need not mean cowardice. .."

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, "Profiles in Courage"


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