For many companies, efforts to improve culture of integrity start at the top with senior executives, ensuring they exemplify strong ethics in interactions and communications with their teams. But these efforts often fail to recognize the greatest source of influence on employees’ perception of culture and the ethical decisions they make — their peers.
Culture of integrity is formed in three ways: what managers say, do and how they operate. The first two are typically easy to tackle, but the third one is the most important. It means that ethics can only become part of the organizational culture once it’s activated through the right processes, budgets, structures and policies. Thus, ethics is not only a tone-at-the-top issue. It’s a matter of everyday work – at all layers of the organization.
To improve an organization’s ethical culture, we should help employees exhibit good behaviors, ensure managers send consistent messages and make colleagues’ positive behavior more visible.
Your organization won’t have a strong climate if employees only understand how to avoid misconduct. We need to make also the good behaviour visible. To do this we need discussions, transparent decision making, continuos employee communications and training programs. But most importantly we need decision making, which is in line with the written ethical standards.