8 February 2011

What is the best way to encourage ethical behaviour in the workplace? A common finding seems to be that good behaviour “rubs off”. The example of managers sets the tone, and we then tend to behave in ways very simliar to colleagues we work closely with. That’s why State Services agencies are expected to promote the “trust elements”, including having standards, promoting them, integrating them into the way we work, with an expectation that managers model those standards.

The practice in the State Services is that managers are responsible for providing integrity leadership. Managing standards is a core leadership role and should be a continuing part of staff supervision. New Zealand hasn’t replicated the US practice where there is a mandated regime of ethics officers. One downside for us is that promoting standards can lose priority.

The UK Institute of Busienss Ethics believes that ethics ambassadors may be the way forward. It recommends that ethics should be championed by local, accessible staff members, through an ethics ambassador network. The belief is that this can create a culture of openness. Ethical dilemmas disclosed and discussed, will go some way to combatting bribery and corruption.