We don’t need more rules

As business scandals continue to surface, we see more companies looking to hire compliance officers.  So we must ask: do we really need more employees whose job it is to ensure that other employees are following the rules?

Thinking about the recent Volkswagen scandal, would more compliance officers have prevented the deployment of its cheating software?  Compliance officers do their job within a set of corporate values.  If those values don’t include honesty, integrity, and trust, then what exactly is the role of a compliance officer?  The time has come for organizations to discover the values they want to live by, instead of the rules they want to follow.

Ethics Officers more naturally consider culture and values when addressing compliance failures.  Values provide guidance not only in interpreting a rule but in deciding what to do when no rule governs.  That’s why values-based organizations will always outperform, and outlive, those that are rules-based.  In the aftermath of an ethical scandal, organizations regain none of the public trust by hiring a large outside law firm.  To regain trust, organizations must publicly commit to live by a set of clear values.  And they must be willing to lose business rather than compromise those values.

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