Many view workplace ethics as antithetical to the bottom line. This multinational manufacturer, however, says that the value of ethics can be enjoyed by shareholders and stakeholders alike.
When Andy Powell was appointed Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer at the multinational manufacturing company Flex 18 months ago, he was presented with a challenging task: generate a positive, values-based ethics culture across the company’s 100+ facilities that employ more than 160,000 people over five continents. And the initiative had to work with Flex’s bottom line.
“I looked at the situation and realized there’s no way we can be the policeman,” Powell said via videoconference. “We can’t be in 30 different countries at 100 different sites, constantly monitoring what people are doing, which some companies do. Large banks, financial institutions, rather heavily regulated companies — they do have hundreds, if not thousands, of people in compliance roles, looking over peoples’ shoulders and checking what they’re doing. But we didn’t want to do that. We can’t do that. We operate on razor-thin margins.”
Just over a year ago, Powell developed a data reporting program across the company’s 50 largest sites by revenue. From this data, he and his team created an ethics scorecard by which they could benchmark progress. While he says it is too early to declare victory, Powell contends the intervention has already realized important returns for the company’s workforce and its shareholders.
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