AECOM recently collaborated with the Ethisphere Institute to co-host the second annual “Best Practices in Ethics Communications Workshop” at the iconic New York Stock Exchange, New York, United States. This year’s theme, “Working across the C-suite,” focused on leveraging internal communication strategies to create an ethical business culture, that engages staff and enables organizations to earn and maintain the World’s Most Ethical Companies designation.
The workshop, which was geared towards communications, compliance, governance and legal professionals began with remarks from Paul Argenti, professor of Corporate Communication and Corporate Responsibility, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, who reminded attendees that they are now on the front lines of a new regulatory era and there is nothing more important than establishing and maintaining trust across all business operations. “Ethics is how you should act or what you think you should do; it means going beyond legal requirements,” said Argenti. “After all, trust gives us our license to operate; it is based on the notion that employees and companies will always provide collective trust.”
Following the keynote, Jean-Marc Levy, senior vice president, head of global issuer services, NYSE Euronext, moderated an expert panel discussion featuring experts: Vic Beck, rear admiral, U.S. Navy (retired), managing director at Burson-Marsteller and former vice chief of information for the Department of the Navy; Holly Gregory, partner, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP; Dana Perino, former White House press secretary, president of Dana Perino Communications and a co-host of The Five on Fox News; and Dawn Werry, vice president, marketing, Milliken & Company. They explored the role of communicators in setting an ethical tone within an organization and agreed that many companies are embracing social media as a tool to drive greater transparency and build trust among stakeholders.
Most workshop presenters offered best practices on how to achieve and maintain status on Ethisphere’s annual list of World’s Most Ethical Companies designation. Some of the presenters included AECOM, Aflac, the Arthur W. Page Society, General Electric, Cleveland Clinic, Edelman and Emory University Center for Ethics. In light of recent legislations, the presenters emphasized the importance of communications professionals collaborating across the C-suite to build and sustain an ethical corporate culture.
A breakout session led by Dr. Edward Queen, director of the Ethics and Servant Leadership Program within Emory University’s Center for Ethics, featured a wide range of topics intertwined with the dominant theme of ethics and communication. Other highlights included best practices from Cleveland Clinic, Wipro Limited and a key takeaways discussion led by Tim Erblich, chief executive officer, Ethisphere Institute; Laura Kane, vice president, corporate communications, Aflac Inc.; and Ben Boyd, global chair, corporate practice, Edelman.
“The success of the workshop was made possible by the active engagement of the more than 130 participants,” said Tim Erblich, chief executive officer, Ethisphere Institute. “From corporations and small businesses, government and the military, academia (professors and students) we engaged in meaningful dialogue around external communication programs that highlight ethics as a differentiating brand attribute and positively position the business community with external stakeholder audiences.”
Paul Gennaro, AECOM’s senior vice president and chief communications officer, and Chair, Ethisphere’s Communications Advisory Board, concluded the event by emphasizing the importance of brand reputation as it pertains to ethics, social responsibility and transparency. “I encourage communicators to seek out their peers in ethics and compliance,” Gennaro added. “Because even if your CEO has not clearly articulated that ethics is a top priority, it surely is.”
The Ethisphere® Institute is an independent center of research, best practices and thought leadership that promotes best practices in corporate ethics and compliance and enables organizations to improve governance, mitigate risk and enhance relationships with employees, business partners, investors and the broad regulatory community. Ethisphere evaluates and benchmarks compliance and governance programs, honors superior achievement through its World’s Most Ethical Companies’™ recognition program and publishes Ethisphere Magazine. Ethisphere is also the leading provider of independent verification of corporate ethics and compliance programs that include: Ethics Inside® Certification, Compliance Leader Verification™ and Anti-Corruption Program Verification™.