We have developed a Workplace Ethics Checklist as a quick and easy DIY tool to complement the Ethics Monitor survey. The Checklist can be used to evaluate the status of a company’s ethics awareness, understanding and management and to identify whether action needs to be taken to improve the management of ethics. If the answer is “no” to any of the eight questions, it warrants action to more effectively manage the company’s ethics.

1. Do your people (directors, executives and employees) share a common understanding of what constitutes ethics in your business?

A clear, shared understanding is an essential foundation for ethical behaviour.

2. Do your people understand why workplace ethics is important?

Insight into the benefits of sound ethics and the potential costs of unethical conduct strengthens your people’s understanding of why workplace ethics matters so much.

3. Do you know your company’s ethical status as perceived and experienced by your employees and key stakeholders?

You should measure your company’s ethics so that you know and understand the current ethical reality – not as you wish it to be, but as it really is.

4. Have you set up a social and ethics committee?

The Companies Act requires all but small companies to set up a social and ethics committee.

5. Do you manage your ethics proactively and regularly?

The benefits of ethical conduct and the costs associated with misconduct warrant that ethics is not managed reactively or on an ad hoc basis.

6. Do you have a strategy to manage ethics effectively?

An ethics strategy should identify clear goals and actions to create an ethical workplace and an ethical culture.

7. Do you provide opportunities for your people to learn how to handle ethical dilemmas effectively?

Effective training to address ethical challenges in the workplace (among other issues) reinforces an ethical culture.

8. Do you report on your company’s ethics?

Ethics reporting is a recommendation of King III and a requirement for the Companies Act social and ethics committee.

By Cynthia Schoeman