Does your organisation have an Ethics Coach? If you answered “no”, perhaps you are not even sure what an Ethics Coach is? Every organisation has a team of staff in their Legal, Compliance, Risk, and Quality Departments and often, they have the necessary, but at times unwelcomed, responsibility of policing and enforcement tasks. In contrast, Ethics Coaches can emerge from any corporate department and serve as peer guides for matters pertaining to ethics and integrity. In the role of a guide, rather than police/enforcers. Ethics Coaches are easier to reach for when the need arises.
Ethics Coaches are peers with a passion for ethics, integrity, and a positive workplace. As discussed in our recent podcast with physicist and Ethics Coach, Dr Nico Maccaferri, the role is performed in addition to one’s existing role and this gives a wealth of contextual experience to the questions and problems that people approach them with. In Nico’s work, data integrity is vital. As an Ethics Coach, students and colleagues are able to consult him on a variety of matters including plagiarism prevention, data management, and ethical authorship practices – guidance not obtainable through other channels such as the Ombudsperson, Legal, or Risk Management officers.
Optimally, Ethics Coaching should be part of a formal program within the organisation so that the Coach is officially recognised and has input into various corporate operations such as ethics and compliance training, and quality improvement of the organisation’s whistleblower management system. Organisations can choose their own branding for these programs, including Ethics Champions or Ethics Ambassadors.
Ethics Coaches normally volunteer for the role, but they can also be nominated by peers who esteem them for their ethics, integrity, and emotional intelligence skills. As the role of the Ethics Coach is often in addition to one’s main role, organisations should arrange appropriate compensation to their Coaches and always, acknowledge the role during annual performance reviews.
Companies such as BAE Systems, Bombardier, Servomex, and the Luxembourg Institute of Health have implemented their own Ethics Coaching programs to great success. Together, with many other companies, they are setting a new global standard for corporate ethical excellence.