Life & Culture

How creating an ethical workplace can boost your bottom line

Want to challenge big resignation And boost your bottom line? My Ethics and Compliance Company, LRN, to wipe 8,000 employees in 14 countries and 17 industries found that company culture has a significant impact on retention and results. Companies with the strongest ethical cultures outperform their peers by 40% across all measures of business performance: from levels of customer satisfaction to employee loyalty, innovation, adaptability — and even growth.

Focusing on morals is especially important for Generation Z, who will do just that make up 27% of the workforce by 2025. A recent Tallo survey found that 72% of Generation Z applicants seek a just and ethical president, 61% want their voice to be heard, and 87% say DEI strategies are very important. There is a reason why ESG – Environmental, Social and Governance – is of the utmost importance to business leaders looking to the future.

By assessing your organization’s performance, in 2022, you can create a more sustainable ethical culture. Here are five steps to effecting change:

Evaluate the current state of your culture

Culture is more than table tennis, beer taps, or even flexible work schedules. Culture includes creating a sense of belonging and respect for all employees, actively supporting DEI initiatives (which came into the spotlight after the murder of George Floyd), the ease with which employees feel able to speak and engage, and your company’s attitude toward the environment.

With that in mind, companies need to have a pulse in their collective culture. You cannot manage what you do not measure. While there are many ways to collect data, it is best to simply ask your employees. Ask everyone — from senior leaders to middle management to individual shareholders — questions about how they experience company culture to reveal how it affects employee behavior. Doing so helps identify gaps that need immediate attention in accessing people, tools, resources, and training. Data collection and analysis provides objective insights and can let you know where and how to intervene.

Be upfront and transparent about the standing of your organization

Be Prepared: Surveying your employees’ opinions of company culture may reveal some hard truths.

Maybe your culture is different from what you thought, or maybe the employees want something different. It is important to maintain an open dialogue that acknowledges the facts presented by other employees and focuses on improving the culture for all. Data from recent LRN Norm of moral culture The report reinforces the well-established concept of “leadership separation” across more than ten dimensions of culture. From company ethics to transparency, DEI, and performance under pressure, leaders score themselves an average of 11 points higher than their teams.

Responding to cultural strengths and critical risk areas

Firms that have conducted a culture audit should review the results and select one to three areas of opportunity to develop strategic plans around them. You can’t solve everything at once, but you can make incremental changes. All too often, we see companies effectively assess their culture but then fail to implement the change initiatives needed for improvement. This is why it is so important to commit to change in 2022. Your action plan for cultural improvement should contain:

  • Key goals (what are we trying to improve and why?)
  • Work steps.
  • Realistic timetables.
  • Stakeholder participation and accountability.
  • The budget to be accomplished.
  • Success metrics.

Also, it is essential to communicate assessment findings and action plans across your organization. Doing so fosters a culture in which it is safe to speak, and one where leaders listen and respond to the needs of the workforce.

Recognize and keep all key stakeholders involved

It is important for companies to have a common set of cultural values ​​and ideals that everyone understands. It takes an entire organization to uphold standards of conduct in the workplace and an understanding that they will take responsibility for doing so. Upholding an ethical culture is not only the responsibility of the HR or the ethics and compliance team. Culture is a living, breathing, and evolving entity, defined by the participation of all. The moment leadership thinks, “We’ve arrived,” your culture has stopped growing and progressing. Instilling a strong culture in an organization is like raising a child in that your responsibility never stops, but rather develops as the child becomes their own person.

Evaluate, track and report progress

Culture is impossible to manage or change without measurement. Resources that provide a comprehensive view of the state of moral culture are a good starting point. Tracking cultural progress over time – knowing how your ratings change year by year and how you are improving in your target growth areas – is especially important for effective governance, risk mitigation, ensuring compliance, leadership in ESG, DEI, regulatory fairness, trust and other metrics.

Working on these five steps in 2022—starting with a candid and honest scrutiny of where you are now and thinking about where you want to be—will help your organization bring about cultural change. With culture as your compass, your organization can continue to evolve into the best version of itself.


Emily Miner Manages LRN’s Consulting practice of ethics and compliance with organizational culture and behavior assessment processes. It advises organizations undergoing large-scale cultural shifts across a variety of industries, emphasizing creative processes, and relying on data-driven insights.

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