Organizational Integrity, and the bottom line results
one can expect
30 September 99
of Importance and Measurement.
In the previous questions, we addressed the integral relationship
between the ethics of purpose (especially business ethics),
social responsibility, and organizational ethics. One of
the principal debates in organizational ethics is over the
issues of whether one can measure the degree to which desired
values, principles, and practices have been integrated through
out the organization, and how one might do so. Another,
less frequently debated, issue is whether it is ethical
to change a culture. more
dominant thinking in organizational life is that if you
cannot measure it, it isn't important. And it is a fact
that what is measured is what tends to get attention and
resources. Our sense, however, is that if it is truly important,
you cannot measure it, at least with precision. Instead,
what is important needs to be interpreted.
goes counter to most management theory and practice: total
quality management, management by objectives, reengineering,
and bottom line thinking of all stripes. It is essentially
the difference between asking why, in its most appreciative
sense, and how or what. The threat from a
requirement for precise measurement lies in the limits such
measurement places on vision and values, on moral imagination.
we must attempt to measure the integration of desired values,
principles, and practices into the organization with reference
to how effective it has been in terms of its essential social
responsibility to a dynamic community. But we must also
be mindful of the admonition Aristotle made in his Ethics
over two thousand years before: "Now our treatment of this
science will be adequate, if it achieves that amount of
precision which belongs to its subject matter."
of Effective Ethics Programs. Studies have recognized
eight generally expected outcomes of ethics/compliance programs:
of ethical/legal issues
to report wrongdoing
news to management
in judgment processes
commitment to organization
external stakeholders' needs
eight outcomes, together with the seven parameters of organizational
integrity, provide a framework to identify and gather pertinent
data. Three of the outcomes and parameters overlap, so there
are 12 primary factors to assess.
primary tools for gathering the required information are
observation, individual interviews, focus group interviews
with representative groups of involved and affected stakeholders,
analysis of documents, and surveys. This data is then analyzed
and integrated. Assessment is best accomplished through
a combination of these tools.
Assessments. Program assessments may be based on the
fundamental underpinnings of organizational integrity and
Community-What communities do the involved stakeholders
recognize? How broadly do they define the community of
which they are a part? What do they believe are their
responsibilities to these communities? How well do they
know the history of the organization? How well do they
honor organizational values? How well do they honor established
stakeholders have the skills, knowledge,
and attitudes to be excellent? Do they have the capabilities
needed to meet the challenges assigned? Does the organization
have the capacities to support involved stakeholders?
Is work intrinsically valuable? To what extent is
excellence honored? To what extent is it rewarded? How
often does excellence figure in the ordinary language
of the organization? How much mediocrity is tolerated?
How often is mediocrity rewarded?
is membership in these communities recognized? What is
good about being a member of the organization as a whole?
What is bad about being a member? How attached are employees
to the organization? What conflicts arise due to membership
in multiple communities? How are people treated who are
much does one feel a part of the organization and its
broader community? How much loyalty do both involved and
affected stakeholders feel toward the organization? Can
one make independent values-based judgments? How often
do ethical dilemmas result because identities and responsibilities
overlap? How often must one make one's own rules rather
than follow the organization's?
well do involved stakeholders identify potential ethical
and legal issues in their areas of responsibility? Do
they know where to go for advice? What decision-making
processes are used in the organization? How much voice
do that they have in the decisions that affect them? What
values or principles are applied? Are applicable legal
requirements considered? Are most decisions generally
seen to be fair? If not, why not?
people think and dialogue with reference to the "big picture"?
Is the environment considered to be part of the community
of which the organization is a part? Are thoughts, feelings,
and actions taken into account in determining reality
and expectations? Does the organization think, communicate,
and act with a view to its responsibility to the broader
community? Are affected stakeholders, such as families,
communities, and society as whole considered and discussed?
and Hope-Do involved stakeholders have a sense of
being a part of something bigger than themselves? Do people
find it intrinsically valuable to be involved with the
organization? Is health and safety a top priority? Do
people look forward to going to work?
expected outcomes of an ethics/compliance program:
Unethical/illegal behavior-To what extent have
employees observed specific unethical or illegal behaviors?
of Ethical Issues at Work-How quick are employees
to notice when a situation raises ethics or compliance
for Ethics/Compliance Advice-Once an employee is aware
of an issue, do employees look or advice within the company?
If not, why not?
Bad News to Management-Are employees comfortable delivering
bad news to their managers? If not, why not?
Ethics/compliance Violations-If someone knew that
a coworker was doing something unethical, would he or
she report it to management? If not, why not?
Decision Making-See "Judgment" in the seven parameters
of organizational integrity.
Commitment to the Organization-See membership and
community in the seven parameters of organizational integrity.
of external stakeholdersSee membership and community
in the seven parameters of organizational integrity.
Culture and Integration. The integration of leadership
and culture, as a measurement of success, is captured in
Peter M. Senge's adaptation of Lao Tzu in the Tao-te
ching contained in the box above.
To the extent that rules are required because stakeholders
cannot be trusted to know to do the right thing, values
have not yet been integrated.
the extent that leadership is perceived to act inconsistently
with desired values, integration has not occurred.
the extent that the organization takes action perceived
to be inconsistent with values, integration has not occurred.
the extent that people don't understand what they or their
leaders are doing, integration has not occurred.
the extent that mistrust or cynicism abounds, integration
has not occurred.
the extent that the community it serves does not believe
that the organization meets its dynamic needs, integration
has not occurred.
Analysis. Organizations are awash with data, which reflect
its overall health. Statistics that might be considered
to determine organizational integrity include:
Profitability and growth.
resource data, employee absentee, turnover, grievance
and mental health records.
misconduct versus reported misconduct.
nature, and subject of helpline calls for advice.
discrimination claims, including sexual harassment.
data analysis approach is third-party auditing. The Social
Accountability standards of the Council on Economic Priorities
is one such approach. Patterned on the International Standards
Organization certification processes, SA8000 is based on
the principles of 11 Conventions of the International Labour
Organization (ILO), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The standard covers eight workplace conditions: child labor,
forced labor, health and safety, freedom of association
and the right to collective bargaining, discrimination,
disciplinary practices, working hours and compensation.
The ninth area covered by the standard is management systems,
which stipulates necessary systems for ensuring ongoing
conformance with requirements of the standard.
Line Results for a Learning Organization. Learning organizations
better their bottom lines by:
human potential through harmonizing individual and enterprise
purposes, visions, views of current reality, and expectations.
creative or constructive tension for emotional or destructive
to heart the notion of adding value through each action
and every important relationship.
the minds of others for more information and knowledge.
from mistakes, problems and conflicts.
on change, conflict, and experience and inquiring into
their impact on enterprise and individual purposes, visions,
and views of reality.
awareness of the elements of human action and how they
direct our actions and our understanding.
individual and group responsibility for decisions and
competitive cycles, as in developing new products or services
more quickly; and
key learning points, such as learning to acquire the most
critical data, not all available, data.
We hope this journey through the world of organizational
ethics, organizational integrity, and their progeny, the
learning organization has been stimulating, thought-provoking,
and educational. It is, to be sure, a complex study. We
hope this has simultaneously challenged and encouraged you
to consider the full depth and breadth of organizational
life, and its ethical and policy implications.
you to join us as we continue to explore.