Recently, I read a huge, full-page ad from the “Business Ethics Leadership Alliance” (www.ethisphere.org) which said:
“Join us in supporting business ethics. In these times of trouble, the demand is greater than ever to invest in, do business with, or work for a company you can trust. Membership is open. Does your company belong?
At its essence, BELA proactively empowers businesses to be “de facto” leaders in self-regulating against corporate fraud, corruption and greed. The four core values for BELA members are:
Legal Compliance – following both the letter and the spirit of the law to counter fraud, corruption, bribery and deceit.
Transparency - setting the cultural tone from the top by encouraging dialogue on ethical issues and disclosing information in a full, accurate and timely manner.
Conflict Identification – actively identifying and addressing potential conflicts of interest and appearances of impropriety.
Accountability – emphasizing quality, customer protection, environmental sustainability and integrity in the supply chain.”
Sounds great. Some of the members: General Electric, The Hartford, United Airlines, Dell, and Wal-Mart.
Frankly, you never know the value of this outside of the usual public relations goodwill until one of the companies turns on itself or is “outted” by BELA. Until we see one of the companies brought to task and consequences meted out (public embarrassment would do), we cannot know that the members are signing up for anything more than looking good and impressing those anxious to believe.