I'm going to interrupt the Partner/Vendor series a bit here to write about another subject.
KMi has done a lot of work in developing online compliance and ethics courses. In fact, the production of a series of web-based business ethics case studies is where I got my start as an online training provider way back in the early 90's. It would not be inaccurate to say that to say that KMi owes its existence as one of the best eLearning development companies precisely because of those early case studies. But that's another subject for another day.
We are preparing to launch a marketing push with our partner, Integrity Works Inc. in connection with the release of the 2009 Ethics Resource Center National Business Ethics Survey. (NBES) In getting ready for our efforts we've been researching earlier surveys. Here's a quote from the 2007 NBES:
This year, more than half of the employees surveyed are reporting misconduct (56%). The three most common types of misconduct reported include conflicts of interest (23%), abusive or intimidating behavior (21%), and lying to employees (20%). The statistics are more troubling in negative work environments. ERC describes a negative work environment as one where employees feel:
- A lack of satisfaction with information from top management and/or supervisors
- A lack of trust that top management, supervisors, and/or coworkers will keep promises or commitments
- The company rewards employees who are successful, even if it is through questionable means
The number of strong ethical cultures, ones where the above characteristics are absent, is on the decline. Only 10 percent of U.S. companies have strong ethical cultures. ERC attributes this to low management awareness of misconduct and few successful ethics and compliance programs.
I'm willing to bet that this grim outlook will be even worse when the 2009 NBES comes out in late October. We've seen it coming for years.The problem is not economic hard times, although the recession does exacerbate things. The problem is that US companies have relied too much on compliance and too little on ethics; too much on CYA and too little on changing culture; too much "check-the-box" and too little on changing behaviors.
Our role in helping a company develop a "strong ethical culture" is admittedly only one part of a larger effort. That said, really well done, really engaging custom elearning solutions on ethics, as opposed to generic library stuff, can go a long way in creating such a culture. Taking the time to make content relevant to employees, speaking their language, understanding their day-to-day dilemmas communicates management's seriousness of purpose in a uniquely powerful way.
If you'd like to join in on this conversation post a comment below or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org