2018 European Compliance & Ethics Institute Guest Blogs: Chocolate or Culture?

By Jane Mitchell

I am reflecting on my best take-away from Frankfurt and the 2018 ECEI. Tempted though I am by the cornucopia of wonderful chocolate Easter goodies that I have brought back to England, gratification will be short-lived, so my mind turns to more sustainable delights.

One of the most satisfying aspects of SCCE’s annual ECEI conference has been watching it steadily grow, and this year this particularly struck me, with the emergence of many new faces. At the same time, it was a real pleasure to meet up with old ‘friends’ and to know that the community of professionals that is building through the ECEI has a unique opportunity to support and nurture through connection and familiarity.

Many of the new participants said to me that it was ‘wonderful to feel that I am among friends, not alone’. This is the heart of the conference, and add to that the sharing, learning and development opportunities it’s a heady mix!

What of the learning and development? I was struck, and am struck every year by the ‘culture’ question. Increasingly compliance professionals are being ‘voluntold’, sometimes invited, to add this area to their workload. Sometimes this extends to adding ‘ethics’ to the title of the individual or the function, assuming that may be enough to signal that ‘we take it seriously’. Elsewhere ethics/compliance colleagues are grappling with what ethics and ethical culture really does look and feel like.

During our ‘Making the Intangible Tangible’ session we were lucky enough to begin to unpack that question a little. We had a lively and honest conversation which told us that people do have a very clear personal view of what constitutes an ethical culture; integrity, pride, behaviours, listening, organizational justice, transparency, consistent communication and leadership.

That’s all good I hear you say. Yes, it is. The snag, however, is that that is not yet what is being evaluated (or measured) well. The result being (and our microcosmic conversation is merely a reflection of the corporate world as a whole), that most organisations are finding it very tricky to establish with any certainty, the health of their ethical culture or culture of integrity.
The good news is that help is close at hand, and with the development of the thinking joining up with the science and the analytics, I am confident that there is light at the end of the tunnel! Onwards to Berlin!