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Beware the signs of ethical collapse

Even leading companies with seemingly rock solid compliance can suffer ethical collapse. It's often certain ingrained behaviours - not in themselves unethical - that, given free rein, can lead to such a failure. Marianne M Jennings reveals how to spot those behaviours and how to modify them.

There are numerous recent examples of successful companies whose ethical misadventures have landed them in hot water. The list could also be extended to include some companies now struggling with sub-prime issues. Each of these companies had a strong code of ethics and other components of a solid ethics programme. Still, they managed to engage in headline-grabbing lapses of judgment.

Best practices in compliance generally arrive a bit too late. Getting our heads around what allows mishaps, misdeeds, and financial scandals to breed and grow is extremely difficult. How would I know if my own company was trotting down the same paths of misdeeds as others before it?