ICology: communicating ethics internally

Ep #5,  Katherin Bradshaw with IBE

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Katherine Bradshaw is the Communications Manager for the Institute of Business Ethics. Their purpose is to promote high standards of business practice based on ethical values and raise awareness of business ethics through the dissemination of knowledge and good practice. 

In this episode of ICology, Katherine discusses some of the challenges communicators face when discussing ethics and provides some helpful tips to make the ethics conversation more real for employees. Their Good Practice Guide to Communicating Ethical Values Internally is available for download. 

Episode Transcript

Chuck: Welcome to ICology, the podcast dedicated to interesting people doing interesting things in the world of internal communications. In this edition, the focus is going to be on ethics and the practice of communicating them to employees, so please listen in.

Hello, this is Chuck Gose, the host of ICology. This is actually episode 5 of the series. And today, we're going to talk about a topic that probably gets taken for granted a little bit, probably not one communicators spend a lot of time focusing on. But as we're seeing in the news, it's actually quite important. And September last month is actually PR Ethics Month. So, I know that both PRSA and CIPR both spend that time focusing on PR ethics, but it doesn't really seem to be the same focus when it comes to internal communications. And that might not be out of negligence, it just might not be that we see the value of ethics in internal communications.

And honestly, it's come back into focus a bit, thanks to Volkswagen and its emissions scandal, and I guess you could call it internal comms went into a bit of a crisis comms. And certainly VW is paying the price both financially and in reputation for its scandal.

People have called me maybe a little bit of a skeptic, a little pessimistic. And I think it's naive to expect companies to be 100% ethical. And again, that might be a little negative, but companies are made of people. People make mistakes, especially when it comes to ethics. Nobody's perfect. But I guess it's all around when you do make mistakes, how do you correct them? And not that you want to be an unethical company, but there are going to be those times and those missteps, and then how do you correct them.

And the funny thing is, before I get to our guest here, when people say business ethics, I can't help but think about the quiz scene at the end of Billy Madison when he trumps up his competitor there. But we're certainly not here to talk about Adam Sandler movies. We are here to talk about ethics and the communication of them. So, I want to introduce our guest today is Katherine Bradshaw. She is the Communications Manager for the Institute of Business Ethics. So, Katherine, welcome to ICology.

Katherine: Thanks, Chuck. I'm glad to be here.

Chuck: Well, I'm glad to have you on. I know we very recently crossed paths, I think it was mostly on LinkedIn, but around some different webinars and things that you've done recently. But before we get into the ethics conversation, and for those who aren't familiar with the IBE, explain what it is and the mission it serves.

Katherine: Well, the Institute of Business Ethics was set up about 30 years ago by businesspeople who are concerned that business standards were falling, that your word was no longer your bond. Our mission really, we're an educational not-for-profit, so we try and basically help companies to be more ethical. So, we do research and training. And our aim is to help people engage with their employees and support them so that they can do the right thing at work, in a nutshell. Obviously, it's a bit more complicated than that.

Chuck: Yeah. And you guys are based in the UK, correct?

Katherine: That's right. Yeah. 

Chuck: Okay. Now, let's get into the conversation. So like you, I believe that ethics has a bit of an image problem when it comes to the communication of it. Because not only, and I think I mentioned this in the beginning, communicating ethics, I have been in these shoes before. It sounds tedious, and honestly, how a lot of companies treat communicating ethics is at times archaic. So in your opinion, what can communicators do to correct this image issue that ethics communication has?

Katherine: Yeah, because it sounds so boring, doesn't it? And it sounds like you're being told what to do, or you're being told how you should feel about things. And people quote Aristotle at you, and it's all a bit highfalutin actually. Well, how does that affect how I do my work, how I type my memo, how I make my widget?

And for communicators, I think it is a language issue really. Because people are talking about ethics all the time. They might say, "Oh, I don't want to do any ethics training or talk about ethics." But actually if you're in the canteen or you're making a coffee in the kitchen, you hear people talking about ethical issues, but they're not calling it that. They're calling it fairness, or talking about someone was treated unfairly, or "We're not doing that," "We're not treating that customer well." Fairness is definitely, it's a good shorthand for people when talking about ethics. And even the smallest kid has a real sense of injustice, don't they?

Chuck: They do, yes.

Katherine: "It's not fair. My brother's got that." And it goes all across the world, so it goes across anybody. So, if you swap ethics for fairness, whether that's being fair to your customer, or being fair to your supplier, or being fair to each other, your colleagues, that makes much more sense. And I think the communicators... 

Chuck: Yeah, it's interesting you bring in fairness because I have two young children, and I hear all the time, "Well, that's not fair." It's misplaced this, maybe sometimes their fairness might be...you bring up a good point in that people do recognize it without necessarily being able to name it as an ethical issue.  

Katherine: Yeah. At the IBE, we have a little shorthand first for working out if something is an ethical problem, and one of them is, is it fair? Will the people affected by this think that what I've done is a fair thing to see, a good test. So, you might say, "Yeah, my team members will think it's fair because we'll all get our bonus this week. But my supplier won't think it's fair because they haven't been paid, and this is the fifth week in a row they've not been paid on time," or whatever. So, it's quite...

Chuck: That show too how ethics extends itself through...just like internal comms is in every part of every organization, ethics is there as well.

Katherine: Oh, yeah. And in fact, I think in a way really, in the ideal world, there'll be fairness, but you wouldn't have an internal communications department, would you? We'd all be communicating really well with each other. And the same goes with ethics. You wouldn't have an ethics and compliance team, because you'd have to coach rules. Everyone would be supporting each other and doing the right thing and know instinctively what to do. So, you're right. I think it's very similar in that IC, you can't communicate at someone, and you can't make someone be ethical. Ethics comes from within us. It's who we are really. 

Chuck: So, I think how we first crossed paths is I wrote a LinkedIn post off of a study that's around changing behavior through ethical storytelling, and bringing in back the kid's issue and how it relates...we tell stories to kids, and it's a way for us to continue legacies. But storytelling is now a hot topic in internal communications, even though it's probably something we've been doing or should have been doing for years, and probably most communicators have. We just haven't really thought about it too much, I guess in a way like ethics. So, how can storytelling be an ally for communicators when it comes to this ethics conversation?

Katherine: Yeah, your Pulse post on LinkedIn was great, Chuck, because you got to the heart of the matter that it's what we hear on our mother's knee, and the stories, we've evolved the stories to be how we make sense of the world. And in fact, one internal communicator was telling me how they had a CEO who just didn't say anything, didn't communicate anything. Well, then, all the rumors went around. "Oh, it's because everyone's going to get the sack," or "This business is going to close. This business is going to close." And none of that was going to happen. But because we are like storytelling creatures, if there isn't a story to tell, we're going to create our own. We're going to fill that vacuum.

And when it comes to ethics, stories win our hearts over, don't they? And so when you're trying to communicate what's the right thing to do, you need to tell stories about when someone acted in an ethical way and it had a good outcome. Because we have this problem about speak up lines or whistleblowing.

This one major multinational company only the other day...I'm so surprised, they've got like, I can't remember, hundreds upon thousands of employees across the globe. They had six calls to their speak up hotline. It's not because they're not telling anyone about it or they've got no posters or no one answers the phone. It's because they might say that they'll listen, or you won't get retribution, or it's the right thing to do, but nobody believes it. Because, for whatever reason, the story is if you speak up or if you say this, that you'll lose your job or no one will talk to you.

So, the stories that you might think people are hearing, they might not necessarily be the ones that you want people to hear. So, you've got to make sure that you're listening to what the stories are being told already, but also making sure that the stories, that we're all communicating, and getting good engagement with ethics and engagement with company brand and values are the ones you want told.

Chuck: Yeah, I think that's a matter of the adage of the lead by example, right? And this is going back to the LinkedIn post I wrote. I mentioned from a personal standpoint, one year, I gave up french fries for the year. It was a two-thing. One, they're not good for you. And two, it was more of a test of will, right? It was a reminder of not to eat them.

And so when we'd go out to a restaurant as a family, meals just came with them. And I would always ask, "What else do you have other than french fries?" And I would get salad or cottage cheese or something like that. Well, then, I noticed that my children started doing the exact same thing. They saw that as an option now. This wasn't my intent behind that. Eating french fries was not to get my children not to eat french fries, but obviously, the result is good.  

That was a way for me to internalize, you don't necessarily have to make a big point about leading by example, but if you showcase the people doing the right things and making strong decisions, I believe you'll get others...they want to do those things, they just might not necessarily know how.

Like with the hotline that you just mentioned. Not that you necessarily want to highlight somebody that called out, you used the word "whistleblower," but if there's a way to really showcase about how the use of that hotline really saved the company this, or we improved this, or we didn't know this was going on, that probably would encourage where they wouldn't fear that retribution.  

So when we come into that ethics hotline and things like that, in the conversation, you hear the word "compliance" a lot. And in one of your writings I read, you made a great point about when companies place too much emphasis on compliance, that if people are viewed suspiciously, then they're more likely to act suspiciously. I think that was very interesting to me. I think you mentioned this, you called this the golem effect. So, why don't you explain this?

Katherine: Yeah. Talking about your kids...I don't know about yours. Yours are probably better behaved than mine. But if I act as if my daughter is up to no good, even if she wasn't, she'll think, "Well, I might do that thing now." And in a way, that's what the golem effect is. It comes from a psychiatrist. They noticed this. In Prague, way back in the mists of time, in the Jewish enclave, they created this golem, this monster, sort of Frankenstein. And in fact, the Frankenstein story's very similar.

And then he was there to protect them, and what happened was that he fed off this evil. And because they thought he was actually going to do evil, they locked him up. And then in the end, he went on a rampage and did exactly what they thought would happen. And it's a self-fulfilling prophecy idea.

That if you say, if you have a code of conduct that says, "You will not do this. You will have severe repercussions. You will lose your job," everyone's going to feel, "Oh, God, we're all bad. We're all evil." And in fact, that's been the narrative for some time about all these problems that companies have. And because the bad apples...and in fact, current media, people are thinking a bit differently now. They're thinking, "Well, actually, there can't be so many bad apples. There must be something wrong with the barrel." And that's what I think about the way compliance has been talked about.

But for too long, employees have been cast as you need to be reeducated into the company values and the company way, and a bit like a Russian Gulag. You come and work here, and you have to become one of us, one of us, an automaton.

And actually, like you said, at the beginning, people are people. And we talk about company values, but the companies are made up of people. And so you can't give them the impression that they can't be themselves, otherwise, they're not going to have meaningful work, and they're going to end up feeling distrusted. And so, "If you don't trust me, I might as well...I don't have any allegiance to you. I don't have any engagement with what you're trying to do," and that's, for me, this Golem Effect

And we're talking about stories on how they come to our hearts. And ethics is all about your very sense of self, isn't it? It's what you value. And really, for compliance, it's about the minds, not the hearts. So you tick that box, "I've done that regulatory thing." And I think it's no accident that the banks, the financial services industry is one of the most regulated industries that we have throughout the world, and yet we've been hearing scandal after scandal after scandal. Because you had all these rules, but everyone just adhered to the rules and not the principles. And I think that's what ethics is about, it's about the principle of it.

So yes, you can do that thing. To my daughter, "You can eat that big bag of sweets." But the principle that we're saying that we lead a healthy life is that are you living up to that principle? And so that's a bit of an actual example.

Chuck: And then there's also the flipside of that. We've mentioned that if you tell people, "Don't do this," or, "Don't act this way, "Don't behave this way," I think in people's minds they think, "Well, somebody must be acting that way," or "Somebody must be doing those things if you're telling us not to." But the flipside of that is also that the greater you treat people, the greater you assume they are, the better they themselves perform, right? It's that, "Oh, my God. They think we're all evil," versus "Oh, they think we're all really great people, so let's be great people."

Katherine: Yeah. I work for people who put a lot of trust in me to do the right thing, and I really wanted to do well for them. It's called the Pygmalion effect, this converse thing. So, it comes from the play that later became the film "My Fair Lady." So Eliza Doolittle, she's East End flower girl and then she is treated as if she is a lady. And she manages to fool the Prince of Wales or the King of England, I can't remember which. And her thing is that you treat me like a lady, so I am a lady to you and I always will be a lady.

And that's the same for employees. You treat them like heroes, they can be the guardians of the corporate values, and they can protect them for the company. This sounds a bit much, but you want them to be the foot soldiers for the company, not the kind as with this Russian Gulag image, you don't want them to be there as modern slaves, corporate slaves. You want them to be your entrepreneurs, the people that will do the right thing to protect the company. Because at the end of the day, ethical values are almost like a safety net against risk and the problems, corporate reputation risk. Yeah, I see you've hit rock bottom at the top.

Chuck: You were talking about their protectors, that's a nice little superhero conversation for me to get into. Because you're right, and I think a lot of it comes down to then the recognition. Obviously, you want to recognize people doing the right thing the right way. Really everybody should be doing the right thing in the right way, so it's probably recognizing those that are really going above and beyond. No, that's great. I love those golem effect and Pygmalion effect. Those are great analogies. I think people would understand how this fits in. And again, it goes back to a bit of that culture conversation and what is the culture of the company.

So, back into the communications side of ethics. So, we know and the communicators know that true communications is two-way. But so often in companies, especially in the larger organizations, the bigger they get, communications tends to be a little bit more one-way, and especially with ethics. It's the posters. It's the email that comes out. It's the "Do things this way." So for whether it's a really large enterprise or even a very small company, 20 people, 50 people, what are some strategies that communicators can use to make ethics a strong, two-way conversation?

Katherine: When you were talking about giving up your fries, you exemplified it there. Your immediate manager, and so your dad is your line manager really, they have a big effect on how we work. So, encouraging or developing tools for people to use in team meetings or in their own little mini cultures, mini little businesses within bigger businesses. If you can give managers the tools to communicate with their staff, then that's really, really helpful, I think.

Because there's often the complaint that there's a middle management permafrost that can't be got through to the staff lower down the end of the scale. And I think often it's because you've got managers who are great at their jobs, but not necessarily great about talking about values and ethics, so they're under pressure to get the job done. So if they're supported, and then they can communicate, cascade it for you...because leaders at all levels are part of that.

So, when it comes to using things like maybe Yammer or whatever social media network you've got internally, encourage your leaders to get involved with that as well, and share the stories that you might be picking up if you're monitoring it. And pick those up and use them in newsletters and stuff, so that the voice of employees is heard about how they're experiencing ethics.

And you talked about rewarding people, and lots of companies do do chairman awards and things like that. When people see what happens, see the end result, and what happens over time as well...because often, these things take a long time to get going. You can say, "Oh, we want to be an ethical company. We've had this problem." But it can take years until your culture works itself around to being more open or whatever your problem was.

So to share the stories and collect them. I think the ICs, one of your jobs is collecting the stories from employees and feeding them upwards, making a cycle, rather than just a one-way or two-way, make it a big roundabout.

Chuck: We got it. You mentioned values before. And just like people confuse ethics and morals, I think it's easy for employees to maybe also confuse, and communicators too, to confuse the ethical values and then business values. And so in your words, what's the difference between ethical values and business values?

Katherine: In my shorthand, ethics is about how you're going to do it, and business values is about what you're going to do. Sometimes they're in conflict. So you could say you're going to be innovative, but that could conflict with, say, your ethical value of being transparent or open. You can't be sharing everything you're doing if you're being innovative. Or you could have a business value of being the highest performing company, but actually at what cost? Will you be doing that with integrity? So that's my shorthand for it. 

And actually I was looking at Volkswagen, as you were talking about them, and they're in the news. Of course, they have values, and they have respect and responsibility. But one of their values is top performance. And of course, that goes to the heart of it, that the performance pressure, and their belief in engineering and everything, that took precedence over the desire to reduce pollution.

And that's part of the thing is that there is this conflict. And if internal communicators want to make sure that ethics is at the heart of everything they communicate, they need to look at their corporate values, also look at the way they do stuff as well, and make sure that they're living up to the values in the way they are doing their jobs, too.

Chuck: Yeah, it's going to be really interesting to see, not just the fallout internally at Volkswagen as they attempt to correct it, because I think it's one of those things. People know Volkswagen had a very strong reputation, a very strong customer base. A lot of those people are going to stick with them, but it's more that greater reputation that's at risk. And now, being this case study going forward, you've given yourself the footnote, right?

You've put yourself in this conversation that probably no company ever wants to be a part of. But hopefully, we've talked about those employee hotlines. We've talked about the two-way communication. It would be interesting now, seeing what's happened at Volkswagen. Are some of these other companies now saying, "Maybe we need to correct that," or maybe, "We were going down this road. Let's take a step back and rethink this a bit." Because nobody wants to be the next Volkswagen, I guess, in this case.

But some of the words you used, like transparency and innovation, in my opinion, those can sound a little buzzworthy. Every company wants to be innovative. Every company says they want to be transparent. But whether they are or not is another issue. But should that be a concern for communicators when we're talking about values and communicating them, that people just brush them off like, "Oh, innovation, trustworthy, honesty, respect, integrity?" Every company should want to be those things. Is that a concern that it just becomes droll or wallpaper? 

Katherine: Yeah. And this is probably the wrong thing to say from someone who works in the Institute of Business Ethics, but I sometimes have a bit of a problem with integrity. Not my own integrity, but with the word integrity. I think does anyone really know what it means? If you say, "Oh, we're going to behave with integrity," what does that mean for me and my job? And is it a bit like when a doctor says, "You have a virus," it just means that they don't really know what's up with you? They know you've got something, but they don't know what it is.

And that's why I think that internal communications, it's internal communicators' role to define what the values mean at your company, your people, when they do their jobs. So if you provide lifeguards for beaches and to act with integrity, what does that mean? Let's have some examples. Let's have some little scenarios of what behaving with integrity means if you're a lifeguard at the beach. That might not be being too specific, but that's what I'm driving at is that yeah, transparency is another one. Actually, a lot of companies can't really be transparent.

Chuck: They really can't. If they're being honest about it, if honesty is one of their values, then transparency, that's a tough one.

Katherine: Yeah, because for valid business reasons, you can't be transparent. But you can be open. People can be open. They can ask us. We may have to say, "I can't tell you at this time," but there's no harm in asking. Openness and transparency is one thing about leaving your door wide open, or coming and opening the door when it's knocked at. That's the difference.

Chuck: Yeah, like the difference between transparency and translucency, I guess. Translucency, you see a little bit, but not details. I think something that'll be really helpful for communicators...so you identify five key elements to an effective ethics program. And I think this list is a great checklist of things for a communicator to go back. And are our companies doing these things? Are these components to our program? So why don't you discuss what these five elements are and why they're each important?

Katherine: So at the heart of it is a code of ethics. For the IBE, we think that's really important, to give employees something that they can refer to. If they're in a situation, what can I do? So to support them in their decision-making. And I think in all these elements of an ethics program, IC should be involved at some point. Because too often we read codes of ethics at the IBE that are drafted by lawyers. And just like what we were talking earlier, they're basically full of "thou shalt not's" and you're going to get your head chopped off. And they're just a turn off. Whereas IC can make this really engaging.

And then there's also communication and awareness campaigns. Because there's no point in having an ethics program and nobody knows about it, or a code of ethics that's just in everyone's drawer. And it should be something that's done all year round really, although Ethics Month or Ethics Week or Ethics Day is all good. But actually every day should be an ethical day. I think it doesn't have to be all just about ethics. People have different ones, purchasing, focus on different strategies or whatever within companies. And if you just build a bit of ethics into that, it just makes a lot of sense.

And then when you come to training and reinforcement, well, it depends on the size of your company. Or training happens all the time really, when you're learning off your line manager, you're learning off your colleagues. But in full ethics training, it does have its place in that you can share stories. You can develop scenarios based around your business that people can help them practice making ethical decisions. And a lot of that may just be knowing who to call if they've got a problem or they're not sure, and sharing. And in fact, I think a lot of ethics training should just be about don't keep it to yourself. Share it with other people. If something concerns you, trust your gut.

And then the next thing, which is part of this, is definitely a feedback loop. If you got the first three, you're starting to get the supporting contacts and culture. So you're building up. Your stories are building up. Your training and communication is all building up, so you're starting to get an ethical culture going. Because there's culture all the time, but it may not be supportive. It may not be ethical.

And then at the very end of the scale is monitoring and accountability. And now you have auditors and things like that, checking people are doing the right thing, seeing, "Oh, we've got so many calls to our helpline and they're asking this. Maybe we should feedback, do a bit more training."

And then there's also reporting. And I think that if IC get involved in reporting on ethical issues with, for example, corporate responsibility reports, then maybe they won't become the great big doorstops that they are, and they will have a meaningful impact on business, how we behave. "This is what we're proud of." And they'll start feeding stories back into your culture, rather than being dry or statistical, "We did this and we didn't get sued," things. There's a whole wall of that.

Chuck: Right. I think you bring up a good point around the feeling in your gut, right? And I think that speaks to that hiring for culture. Hiring for talent is obviously very important, but if that person's going to then go exhibit unethical behavior, then they put that company at risk. But if you see somebody that just gets it, that has that right culture, that you know in their gut they're going to make the right decision, you can't train that. But I think it's more around training people to make sure they just know the right thing, or maybe companies behave in different ways and do different things.

So I think those five elements, again, it's having those code of ethics, it's the communication programs around keeping them in the limelight. You said not just Ethics Week or Ethics Month, but ethics every day. The training of it and the reinforcement of it, then also the context and culture, how you're integrating it into the daily life of the employee. And obviously, like you said, there is that monitoring that comes around, especially in the larger organizations. They're doing audits. They're doing checks. They're making sure people are doing the right things, that all those are a key component.

But now, I'm going to get back into the values conversation. I'm just going to be very honest here. Companies that I work for, when I see the mission statements and value statements, I've had a hard time, maybe it's that skeptic in me, but I've always had a hard time with those resonating to me. When people say, well, "integrity and honesty and being innovative," it's like, "Well yeah, but what makes this different?"

I don't think I'm the only one. I think there's probably a lot of employees that when they see these values that are on posters, or digital signage, or in stories, that they don't even know where they came from, or even how long they've even been around. So in your opinion, how often should companies, we're not talking about just communicating the values, but how often should they revisit them? Business changes and businesses change, and their focus changes. How often should companies revisit values? But also, how should they involve employees in these values conversations?

Katherine: It is an interesting one. In some ways, the very old companies who were founded by the founding fathers...so I think you'd hear like Johnson & Johnson and their credo. That is easy because they talk about those all the time in their hiring. And they have this story about how the credo saved them, helped them during the Tylenol crisis and all that. So some of them come from founding fathers.

And then some of them, your younger startups, they may be sitting there saying, "This is what we are, and this is why we're doing what we're doing." And so they're very, very open and explicit about their values. And then there's others that you're right to, sorry to say, but sometimes you look at them and you go, "So you hired which management consultant?" He said, "Let's have this, this, and this." Or the board said, "Oh, we need some values. What will they be?"

And I think that it should be an ongoing conversation. You can't just say, "Oh, we have these values." You can say that, but values, some people say they have to be discovered really. You already have them. You need to know what they are. And some of them may be accidental. And they could be great. You often have that within teams, that people, they're all working towards the same goal and in the same way, and they believe it should be done with the same ethical approach.

But you involve employees by talking to them, again, which is part of what you were saying about the two-way process. And actually asking them what they think the values are, or what the values mean to them. Obviously, there are different ways of doing that. Or you can talk to them. Ask, "Do you think we are responsible?" You can find lots of proxies to say... 

Chuck: "Do you think we are an honest company?"

Katherine: Yeah. You can find proxies.  

Chuck: And then if people don't feel like they can actually answer it honestly, the irony there.

Katherine: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Well, that's a whole another conversation about employee surveys. So not just focus groups, but yeah, listening in on your Yammer, and seeing what actually are people saying about the values, that revisiting them...I don't necessarily think companies should check to say, "We got to change our values. It's been seven years now." But I think they should go back and say, "What do these values mean for us now? And are we living the values of our founding fathers?"

Because in a way, that's why you've joined the company really. You were talking about hiring for culture. But as a future employee, you sit there and you think, "Do I want to work here? Why do I want to work here?" That could be someone who just says, "I just want to make loads of money. But there's got to be a reason that I want to come in every day and not feel awful about myself." So yeah, I think that the employees are a vital source of what really are our values, and are they the same as the ones that we've got printed on our head paper.

Chuck: I think we can make another analogy here between ethics and engagement. Because I was recently talking at an event, and I said one of the challenges with employee engagement is it's become the product of HR and corporate communications for some reason. It tends to fall in both houses in a lot of organizations, the responsibility for either reporting out or putting structure around it, even though engagement is everybody's responsibility.

But I think we have made the assumption that those talking about engagement are themselves engaged, that we assume that HR is engaged, and we assume communicators are engaged when in fact those might be the very people that could be some of the least engaged people. Because it's such a personal thing.

And is the same incorrect assumption being made with ethics? Because how can communicators not just be the carriers of this message? The communicators are the ones challenged with getting this out, doing the storytelling, getting the values and the examples out there, the things we have talked about. But they themselves, as business professionals in a company, how can they live out, how can they walk the walk and talk the talk, when it comes to ethics? 

Katherine: That is a really, really good question. Because often actually, we're talking about the storytelling, but often internal communicators have to tell some really awful stories. You have to tell people that they're being laid off, and you have to tell people that things aren't going so well. And I think at the end of the line...and for me, the bottom line about ethics is really to remember well, we're talking about people. That we're dealing with people all the time. We're not just numbers or these many employees or what have you. That people are going to be going home and saying, "Oh, I haven't got a job anymore. How am I going to pay my mortgage?" 

And so I think if you can do your job according to your own values, then you're in the right company. And so that means living, trying to be honest, pushing back if people are saying, "We want you to spin this." Saying, "I actually have a conflict of interest. I can't do this, roll out this change management program with this area of the business as my best friend works there and I really can't do this. 

Being able to be honest about the issues you're having. I sometimes think that given the messages, you are told to push this out. And actually feel you don't have to do it alone. So share with your HR colleagues or your, if you have them, ethics and compliance colleagues and work together. Because you were saying like with engagement, "Oh, that's your job to do engagement," but it's all our job to do engagement and it's all our job to make sure that the company does the right thing. So that's my take on it.

Chuck: Well, again, Katherine, I definitely do want to thank you for your time, and being a guest here on ICology. I do want to share with people that a lot of what we've discussed today is available in your "Guide to Communicating Ethical Values Internally." There's a publication you guys have put out. If communicators want to get their hands on one, where can they go to get that?

Katherine: If you come, stop by the Institute of Business Ethics website, so that's IBE.org.uk, and you can order a copy from there.

Chuck: Okay. And then if people want to learn more about the IBE or talk to you, what's the best way for them to make contact? Is it through the website or reach out to you directly?

Katherine: Yeah, the website's fine. And in fact, my email's on there. And that yeah, you can contact me on LinkedIn. And the IBE is on Twitter as @IBEUK. And we love talking to people and seeing how they are experiencing ethics, because actually you inform us of what we need to be looking at and stuff. Because we're not an ivory tower body. We're about the practicality. So we don't tend to say, "This is what companies should be doing. They shouldn't be doing this. They shouldn't be doing that." We say how can we help them make sure that their employees can bring their whole selves to work and have a meaningful working life. So do get in touch.

Chuck: Okay. Well, again, thank you very much, Katherine. And I hope for those listening, this has maybe inspired you. When your company says, "Hey, it's Ethics Week," or "Hey, it's Ethics Month," you can start to reframe that conversation a little bit and say, "No, let's put this into our internal communications plan. Let's make it a part of what we communicate every day." We're seeing examples in the news of unethical behavior in companies, and no company wants to be in that position. And communicators have the power. You have the ability to make a difference, to teach the right things, to communicate the right things, to tell the right stories, and make your company the best it can be.

So again, @IBEUK is a great way to maybe make some initial contact with them on Twitter. Also @LearnICology to keep up with us on the podcast and other internal comms news that I'm sharing. So thank you, Katherine. And thanks, everybody, for listening.