Stamping out conflicts of interest and instilling an ethical workplace culture

Making a decision which way to go.

Ethics – and the impact of ethics on workplace culture – is in the headlines, and often for the wrong reasons.

Recent corporate crises have pointed to a failure in organisational culture and ethics, and the financial services royal commissions firmly highlighted the importance of ethics for the embattled sector. 

In more promising news, Governance Institute’s latest Ethics Index found the nation’s overall ethical rating soared last year, with an Ethics Index Score of 52 recorded, up from 37 in 2019. 

It’s clear that ethics (good or bad) is high on the radar and a growing number of organisations are eager to shine a spotlight on how they can lead positive change. 

As part of the growing momentum, Governance Institute today launches a short course specifically on the topic of ‘ethics, culture and governance’. 

The course demonstrates how to evaluate an organisation’s ethical cultureas well as how to develop and instil an ethical corporate culture. 

It discusses the importance of implementing an ethical framework in the workplace which in turn provides guidance when making any decision. 

Conflicts of interest 

Conflicts of interest are a major ethical influencer. 

How to manage conflicts of interest is an essential consideration for all businesses eager to boost their ethics, but it is highly complex area 

As the course states: “The more confident people are in their ability to be impartial when they have personal interest, the more severe their bias tends to be. 

However, promoting an ethical organisational culture has been found to be an effective way to prevent conflict of interest issues from arising. 

Implementing a Culture Plan 

A Culture Plan outlines the key initiatives to be undertaken by an organisation to achieve its ideal culture. 

As the new short course states:  

More and more regulators are looking for signs that the organisations they monitor and regulate can demonstrate three things: 

  1. A clear description of the culture they want to achieve (informed by their purpose and values). 
  2. Measurements that show how close they are to their ideal culture.  
  3. A plan to bridge the difference between the state of their current culture and their ideal. 

Tips for directors and boards 

The course also drills down on some specific tips for directors and the board, saying the board needs to be the organisations conscience and steer it on an ethical path. 

Tips are offered on identifying and monitoring workplace culture (ie use staff engagement surveys, monitor data on whistleblower events and breachesand analyse exit interviews). 

Governance Institute of Australia’s new Ethics, Culture and Governance short course will be held on 8 June in our Sydney office and virtually on 15 June, with more locations and dates to be announced soon. Find out more.

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