Six Steps To Develop Your Ethics Statement

The following is a simple six-step processthat you may use to develop and implement an ethical Statement ofValues at your organization.

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The first step in developing a statement of ethical values is toindicate complete support for such a statement by the CEO of theorganization and by identifying those stakeholders who need to beserved.

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Second, invite representatives of all stakeholders to a meetingto discuss the goal of creating an ethical statement of values. Thegroup could be divided into smaller units with one representativeof each stakeholder in each group.

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An easy way to begin is to ask all stakeholders to list fivewords or phrases that describe how they would like to perceive theorganization. The words chosen are overwhelmingly reflective ofvalues such as “honest,” “respectful,” “responsible,” “caring,” and“fair.”

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Interestingly, these same five words reflect not just thoseresiding in the United States, but throughout the world (with oneexception–outside the United States, words reflecting a strongvalue for “freedom” make the top five). But the words ultimatelyselected must reflect stakeholder interests.

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Third, the words or phrases should be expanded into expectationssurrounding them.

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For example, assume the word “responsible” was chosen by aninsurance agency. The expanded version could be: “Responsiblewhenyou asked us a question, every employee is empowered to respond,within 24 hours, with the answer, or with the proper person toanswer the question, or with an explanation as to why no answer canbe given. We take your questions seriously and we will respond in atimely manner.”

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These are the Statement of Values. The focus group could becalled together again to review and finalize these statements.

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Fourth, a system of feedback should be created. It could be aconfidential hot line or surveys of stakeholders to see ifemployees are delivering the values promised.

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This system would include a clear designation of one personresponsible for the program. Usually this person, perhaps a“corporate integrity officer,” should be someone with lineauthority and in the top level of management. Appointment of theindividual should have the agreement of the employees, if not theowners or board of directors. Employees have an uncanny knack forknowing who is both ethical and who can be in charge ofcompliance.

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Fifth, assure appropriate implementation and monitoring ofresults.

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The best way to assure implementation and good communicationvaries from organization to organization based on its size, cultureor other characteristic.

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It is widely held that the CEO plays a critical role in theimplementation and communications. He or she should be visiblyinvolved in the entire effort. In fact, some have suggested forthis purpose that the CEO be identified as not only the chiefexecutive officer but also the chief ethical officer.

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Finally, those employees, suppliers or other stakeholders who dodeliver the values should be rewarded. Rewards could be monetary,stock, dinners, extra time off or any other of the myriad of otherpossibilities.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Property &Casualty/Risk & Benefits Management Edition, October 22, 2001.Copyright 2001 by The National Underwriter Company in the serialpublication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as anindependent work may be held by the author.


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