Use the sunlight test by asking yourself, would I do the same thing if I knew my actions would feature in the headlines of tomorrow’s news?
An easy way to test an ethical decision before you take the next step.
The terms ethics and conduct have enjoyed a resurgence in financial workplaces in recent times.
Leadership teams are going back to the classroom to be taught to think. To reflect. To stop and give due consideration before making decisions. They are being encouraged not only to work collaboratively but also to ask probing questions and embrace evidence-based debate.
Though leadership teams have generally been singled out for this training, many of our clients have found it highly beneficial to provide ethics training to all staff and new starters. This has a 2-prong effect:
It encourages the airing of ethical perspectives in the workplace; it grants permission
It shows that the organisation is serious about effecting long-term behavioural change
An investment in practical ethics training is a meaningful way to foster the ideal leaders of the future.
Context is key
Of course, ethics training is only effective if it’s made relevant to the learner. A learner would rightly want to know. How does this apply to me? And what am I supposed to be able to do at the end of this learning?
Practical ethics requires case studies contexualised to a learner’s operating environment within a financial workplace. This could be done by job function or business unit. Ethics training also needs to be tailored to reflect responsibility levels.
For example, front-line employees in a bank would benefit from ethical case studies on accessing and using customer information whereas senior executives might be more inclined to immerse themselves in the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in banking.
Practising ethics in the workplace
How can a workplace support ongoing ethical debate?
As an easy starting point, an organisation might introduce the sunlight test in decision making; the asking of whether the action would be made if it was known that it would feature in the headlines in tomorrow’s news.
Another idea is that major decisions be required to have a devil’s advocate; someone appointed to present and argue an opposite or contrasting view. It is a good way to practice constructive questioning in the workplace and deeply examine the issue.
Whatever form the support takes, across all financial workplaces and at all levels robust ethical inquiry should be encouraged.
By adopting such a mindset and longer-term vision, our financial workplaces will be stronger and fairer, and consumer outcomes greatly improved.
I am excited to see where organisations go with this.
In further blogs in this series, we will explore what best practice ethics learning material should comprise and metrics that can be used to measure its effectiveness.
Practical ethical training for financial workplaces Understand the linkages between Australian financial services legislation, regulatory guides, industry codes, organisational policies and company values and how they aim to influence conduct in the workplace.
OurBusiness Ethics and Conduct provides foundation knowledge on ethical frameworks and decision making and includes case studies contexutalised to financial services workplaces.