The only way is ethicsDamon Bowles • 24th September
Just the public suggestion of unethical practice can blemish corporate reputations, undermine client relationships and send shares tumbling. But forward-thinking companies recognise that the opposite is also true. They know that ethics can be used to empower employees and that good communication is the place to start.
At Words&Pictures we’ve been helping our clients to this end, developing carefully considered global communication campaigns. Our goal is to drive more than mere compliance, instead encouraging employees to embrace ethical behaviour within all aspects of their work. Yet, while many understand a company’s ethics code, most employees feel that ‘ethics’ is a fuzzy concept for businesses, not people, to wrestle with.
With this – as in all cases – the key to success is clarity, simplicity and employee involvement. By working closely with internal communications and training teams, and with the strategic insight of senior management, we’ve defined key messages supporting company behavioural goals.
For one client, this also involved a series of manager and employee focus groups, giving a practical edge to messages and ensuring relevance and meaning to all employees.
To bring this to life, we created a campaign and communications to build on existing work and support communication at all levels of the business. This included developing:
i) senior leadership films for a launch week, each exploring a different facet of ethics and what that meant for employees
ii) a training film as a focus for manager-led team discussions, putting employees into work dilemmas, prompting them to consider and discuss how to manage these challenges ethically
iii) a comprehensive manager guide
iv) infographics – placing ethics at the heart of the business and highlighting the key messages in an engaging way.
A pilot enabled us to fine-tune the materials, get buy-in from key stakeholders and be confident in going for launch.
With a network of sites spanning the globe, rollout to all employees is ongoing, but initial measurement of impact and awareness is higher than previous ethics campaign drives and teams across the world are praising the sessions.
These employees now recognise that ethics is about actions, behaviours and personal choices. They know that it is based on good sense and sound judgement, and supports an environment where people are accountable for their actions and can speak up without fear of retaliation.
And employees recognise that by adopting ethical behaviours they can shape a culture based on integrity, respect, trust and honesty. In short, becoming a great place to build a career and a great company for clients and suppliers to do business with.