18 February 2011

This week’s edition of NZ Management magazine features an interview with the Director of the UK Institute of Business Ethics who visited New Zealand in late 2010. IBE supports multinationals by training senior managers in good corporate behaviour, including preventing employee theft and other corruption.  She spoke of how companies with a focus on ethics perform better than their competitors and are admired for the way they operate.

Businesses need to have ethical codes establishing how they operate. She said that they must ensure staff know what the code requires, there must be good internal controls and the ethics message must be constantly reinforced. This sounds remarkably like the 6 trust elements that the State Services Commission expects agencies to have in place so that the resulting trustworthy behaviour by staff will strengthen public trust and confidence in the State Services.

The trust elements are

  • Having standards
  • Promoting them, integrating them
  • Integrating them into the way agencies operate
  • Managers modelling the standards
  • Staff knowing there are consequence for breaches
  • Agencies taking decisive action when breaches occur.

The 2010 State Services integrity survey gathered data on the extent to which State servants saw their agency giving effect to the trust elements. Agencies should be adapting the way they operate to reflect the survey findings.

Each year IBE conducts a survey assessing public perceptions of ethics in British business.  In the last survey, 38% of respondents said business was more ethical than the previous year. This is a 7% improvement.