Mon 10 Jul 2017
News - What are the outcomes in integrity? reputation, reputation, reputation
What are the outcomes in integrity? reputation, reputation, reputation

Today’s businesses are more complex than ever, with new challenges arising all the time; big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain, to name a few. These are disrupting, and forcing managers to act faster and adapt more quickly. Maybe there is a way to try to navigate in the continuous storm by focusing on key factors.

Consider for instance, if you would ask a real estate expert what the three most important things in real estate are? He/She will most probably say; location, location, location

What do you think that the board members would say if we were to ask them, what the three most important aspects of integrity are?
Do you think that they could say? corporate culture, processes and procedures, and tone at the top?

Corporate Culture:

In very basic words Corporate Culture is, “the way we do things around here,” or in a more sophisticated definition from Goffee and Jones (1998, p. 15) reads: “Culture comes down to a common way of thinking, which drives a common way of acting.”

In recent years, we have seen companies boasting with a very strong culture and very clearly defined values, which have failed, for example, Wells Fargo. Increasing awareness and having a 360-degree approach, may help to identify what we commonly call, “red flags.”

The integrity committee will present a 360-degree approach to integrity in the training event that will take place on October 25, 2017. The 360-degree approach starts with the board member himself/herself who has to choose the appropriate mandates for him/herself. It also involves the board choosing the right board members for the company, with the correct skills and values. It continues with how the board functions as a group, and as individuals. It will look at the oversight of the managers, and the organization as a whole.
Find all the information about the course and the registration form in the following link: Integrity in the Boardroom

Process and procedures:

Companies have developed intensive checklists, codes of conduct, whistle-blower policies, compliance policies, training, etc… But, yet again, history has shown that they can’t prevent failures and breakdowns from happening

One should ask: Is there a real understanding in the board as to how “tone at the top” is embedded through the whole organization? Maybe there is some room for improvement.

One could imagine an organization where the business integrity function could have a veto power in relation to certain decisions, a process that could be integrated across corporate operations.

Tone at the top:

We have some examples of failed tone at the top: Enron, Worldcom, Xerox, Tyco...

The boards need to work continuously on reinforcing the tone at the top, for example by: walking the talk, keeping an ear on the ground, rewarding principled performance (people, pathway and purpose, and include integrity in performance goals), building an integrity ladder to help promote people…

All these things are important to protect value for the company and its stakeholders, but if we consider the question: What are the three most important outcomes in integrity? The answer could just be: reputation, reputation, reputation

According to a recent survey conducted by Forbes Insights on behalf of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, the 2014 global risk survey: Reputation@Risk found that 88% of more than 300 respondents say they are explicitly focusing on reputation risk as a key business challenge.

If reputation risk is a key business challenge, maybe simplicity and focus can help us navigate through current turbulences and obtain better results if only enough attention is dedicated to integrity.

Rosa Villalobos
ILA Board member, and chair of the Integrity Committee.