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How To Create Cultures That Discourage Unethical Behavior

Some time ago, I had the privilege to address several hundred college students at St. Cloud State University, College of Saint Benedict, and Saint John’s University in Minnesota as part of their annual Ethics 360 program. One of the attendees, a sophomore who was interested in pursuing a combination business and human resources degree, asked me to address this question. As I made a covenant with this young man, I am hoping to cover a few key areas that have potential value for any organization:

✅ Build values-based cultures where every employee can speak up reporting what they hear and see. Transparency, honesty, and a desire to build winning teams means that people are comfortable in communicating incidents that are violations of organizational policies and procedures.
✅ Implement rigorous systems and controls that catch irregularities and unethical behavior. One of my co-presenters yesterday was an accounting manager for a major reinsurance company that was given authorization to wire $50 million to a subsidiary. Some companies that I have worked with will not approve of expenditures or transfer of funds totaling $100K without a signature from the CFO or CEO.
✅ Develop ongoing ethical awareness and understanding via training and processes. The best leaders (woefully short in number) make ethics as important as driving sales. Training people how to act ethically is a small step in the right direction, but building the means that allow them to anonymously report violations along with the cultural expectation to do it is essential.
✅ Hire the best talent available who are ethical. This means identifying talent who add value to the organization’s mission, objectives, and culture via their moral compasses.
✅ Implement compensation packages that reward ethical conduct and report violations. Unfortunately in my long career, this key component is a missing link and organizations wonder why their initiatives to create better ethical cultures crawls at snail’s pace.

My friends please remember this: respect, consideration, and courtesy matter a lot. Treat others fairly, decently, and equally. Consult your moral compasses every chance you get and monitor your progress. You know the battle cry: do your best each day. No one can ask more or less from any of us.

All the best/blessings, Mark

Mark Faris
Mark Farishttp://mpvethics.com/
MARK was born in New York City and currently lives in Minneapolis. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he graduated with a B.A. in sociology and speech communications. His entire career spanning 36 years has been in executive sales, marketing, business development, and organizational strategy. He has started and owned three businesses, including a $23 million computer networking company, started up two new sales divisions for publicly telecommunication/data companies including Sprint/Nextel, and was a Board Member for a $225 million U.K. technology manufacturer and distributor. He currently is President of MPV Ethics, LLC., an ethics training and consulting company working with organizations to build better ethical cultures. Mark also has the unique distinction of being convicted for two felonies: mail/wire fraud and money laundering and spent eleven months in a federal prison and halfway house returning to his family in June 2010. He has given over 150 presentations to high school students, universities, B-schools, law schools, and professional audiences regarding the importance of personal and business ethics in our lives. At the core of his renewed philosophy is identification of purpose, building a strong moral compass that helps us effectively deal with dilemmas of all types and sizes. His passion to teach, enrich, and develop others be successful , accountable, and improving the lives of others.
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