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Ethical culture: building a culture of integrity

Publication date:

06 September 2013

Last updated:

22 September 2017

The first paper in our new ethical culture guidance series is aimed at helping CII members to embed a culture of integrity within their organisations. To do so, it builds on research conducted by the authors - the Real Integrity research project.

This guidance proposes a ten-part framework for promoting integrity, which is built around the central principles of setting the right tone, supporting ethical decision-making, promoting openness and managing incentives. The following specific techniques are discussed in detail:

• setting the right tone from the top;
• developing and embedding an effective value statement;
• promoting an open culture within the organisation;
• developing a whistleblowing procedure;
• providing impartial, confidential advice on ethical issues for employees;
• developing and embedding an organisational code of conduct;
• training staff in ethics;
• rewarding ethical behaviour;
• ensuring disciplinary procedures are effective;
• monitoring organisational integrity, and the effectiveness of techniques.

An organisation which is serious about developing an ethical culture will need to pay attention to eachof the above techniques, and to the way they potentially interact with each other. Responsibility for the implementation of the framework primarily lies with the organisation's leadership, though there is also a key role for Human Resources departments.

The CII is grateful to Jim Baxter of the Inter-Disciplinary Ethics Applied (IDEA) Centre at Leeds University, who drafted the content.

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This document is believed to be accurate but is not intended as a basis of knowledge upon which advice can be given. Neither the author (personal or corporate), the CII group, local institute or Society, or any of the officers or employees of those organisations accept any responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the data or opinions included in this material. Opinions expressed are those of the author or authors and not necessarily those of the CII group, local institutes, or Societies.

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