Global Ethics Summit

The Ethisphere Institute’s 7th annual Global Ethics Summit, held March 10-11, 2015 in New York City, saw 425 leaders from 225 companies get together to discuss corporate ethics, company culture, and global impact (Ethisphere, 2015).

Ethisphere has made it easy for those unable to attend to get a feel for the events and topics addressed at this year’s summit by releasing a summary report, Best Practices and Key Takeaways. Following are key points from several major topics, as presented in the Best Practices report. You will find more details in the report; see the link below.

Topic: Culture: Where Passion and Values Meet

Fostering a corporate culture based on values rather than rules can help ensure employees do the right thing for the right reasons rather than from fear of consequences.

Company leaders need to set a positive tone for staff and demonstrate they genuinely care about, and are involved in, matters of ethics on a consistent basis.

Tone from the middle is an underrated component of ethics communication; middle management should be empowered by senior leaders to drive home the company’s core values to ground-level staff on an ongoing basis.

Topic: Operating in Global and Emerging Markets

When dealing with overseas markets, even unintentional cultural oversights can have a lasting impact, so policymakers and compliance professionals should be exceptionally rigorous in their review of communications and activities before deploying to international staff.

When staffing offices abroad, consideration should be given to a candidate’s understanding of the local customs and culture in addition to their knowledge of the company, with the two components weighed accordingly.

A verbatim transfer of policies from home office overseas is not always possible, and companies operating globally may need to tailor their programs to the specific market in question taking into account local culture, customs, language, and laws.

Topic: Social Media: The Good and the Bad

Social media is here to stay, posing more immediate and potent risks than traditional forms of communication.

Preparation is crucial: companies need to create policies and contingency plans, rehearse scenarios, and commu­nicate standards and protocol to staff to help head off potentially damaging social media crises.

Interdepartmental collaboration that includes human resources, legal, and the communications department can be beneficial in curbing the incidence of social media disasters and minimiz­ing fallout when they do occur.

Topic: Compliance: A “Hot Job” of the Future

The career ladder is reinventing itself, with the compliance function taking on a heightened exposure and signifi­cance in many organizations.

Although overlap between the legal profession and compliance exists, as­piring compliance professionals need to apply and nurture additional skills outside of law, accounting, economics, and other traditional backgrounds.

Collaboration is a critical component of success. CECOs (chief ethics and compliance officers) need to understand the business and make themselves visible and accessible to both employ­ees and department leaders to achieve their objectives.

This summary can only hint at the related ethics and compliance issues discussed, both formally and informally, during the summit’s two days.

Ethical Advocate works with organizational compliance officers on ethics hotline implementation and management, training, and related ethics and compliance issues. We welcome your questions.


Ethisphere Institute. “Over 225 Companies Gathered to Discuss Corporate Ethics, Company Culture and Global Impact at the 7th Annual Global Ethics Summit,” Ethisphere press release, May 19, 2015.

Ethisphere Institute. Best Practices and Key Takeaways, report from the Global Ethics Summit, 2015.