Yet, over meetings with managers and board members, we are forced to conclude that the level of understanding of ethics, after all these years, remains low. Too low.
We cannot talk about ethics without yielding to the temptation to reduce it to a code, it does not seem that we are able to talk about interest (s) without reducing the subject to a conflict of interest. Yet there is a world of nuances in terms of interest (s) as there is an entire universe of meaning around the concept of ethics.
What should we do when our glossary or lexicon only provide us with code and conflict when discussing ethics and interests?
To remedy this situation, we launched in early 2015 a program that aims to measure the ethical awareness among managers and board members.
While managers and board members may be specialists in their own fields (finance, human resources, etc.), what about their ethical awareness as managers, board members or members of steering committees? Even while competent in their own fields, are they ethical managers or ethical board members? In matter of ethics, can they distinguish between ethical washing and applied ethics? Do they really understand ethics or do they simply say they do?
Over time, our work has shown that managers and board members are comfortable making ethical decisions in the usual course of business. However, our research also indicates that the level of actual understanding of ethics is usually low or, at least, under the expected level. This weakness is a significant ethical risk which results in the difficulty or impossibility of making ethical decisions in unforeseen situations or when where complexity is higher than usual.
To mitigate the risk of insufficient understanding of ethics, our BoardEthics program provides the ability to measure the awareness and understanding of managers and board members on matters of ethics.
Looking ahead, we can already notice that the Millennial generation puts a great importance to matters of ethics and values. Not too far ahead, it is Millennials who will get to choose if they want to be your employees or if they want to buy your products. Millennials already attach great importance to an organization’s ethics and reputation.
Does your company achieve its full ethical potential?
Has your company ever thought about the ethical understanding of its managers and board members?
These are fundamentals questions if your company wants to achieve sustainability in matters of ethics.
About René Villemure
Field visionary and global innovator, René Villemure created as early as 1998 such concepts as “Ethical Reports©”, “Ethical Management Model©”. He authored the design of the “Ethics & Values©” method.
In 2005, he was recognized by the Chair in Ethical Management at HEC-Montreal as one of 120 international figures who made key contributions to the development of “Integral ethics”.
Since 2009, René Villemure teaches “Corporate Governance & Ethics” at Laval University’s Director’s College and regularly holds ethics seminars at the Institut Français des Administrateurs (IFA), in Paris.
In 2010, he was identified as one of the “200 Pathfinders to the Future” by the Observatoire des tendances in Paris. He also penned the preface to Henry Mintzberg book “Conversations with Henry Mintzberg”.
In 2012, René Villemure designed key programs: “Brand Ethical DNA©”, “Ethics Without Borders©”, and “Socially Exemplary Organizations©”.
In 2014, René Villemure was nominated Associate Member of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation.
René Villemure is a graduate in philosophy from the University of Sherbrooke.
He is the project co-creator of The 10 Commandments of business in the 21st century.
He is also an associate member of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation and member of the Literacy Foundation.
Over time, Rene Villemure delivered more than 650 conferences and lectures, trained more than 55,000 people around the world in over 500 organizations.