As September is the global PR industry’s annual Ethics Month (#PRethics) – with authenticity as the PRCA’s 2023 chosen theme – a free resource is available to help integrate meaningful ethics and compliance into organizations’ communications and reputation management efforts, courtesy of the Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI) – a PRCA partner.
The toolkit’s starting point: internal comms and organizational culture.
ECI offers a free, downloadable “Ethics & Compliance Toolkit,” which provides an essential assessment of policies and practices undergirding an ethics-focused internal culture and authentic brand reputation.
As noted on ECI’s website, the Toolkit provides:
- “A solid introduction to key ideas and issues in organizational ethics and compliance;
- “Ethical decision-making strategies to share with employees;
- “Practical resources to help you design a comprehensive ethics and compliance program at your company; and
- “An historical look at organizational ethics and compliance.”
ECI spotlights and demystifies some of the more complicated issues for organizations undertaking meaningful ethics / compliance conversations… including that these types of conversations themselves can be inordinately difficult.
Getting to the heart of systemic issues, incidents, opportunities and challenges that shape organizational culture and ethics on a daily basis requires a management team to listen to their internal stakeholders carefully.
These internal teams must have full license to reveal their own observations and experiences – however good or bad; affirming or inconvenient. Only then can the good things be further promoted and leveraged… and the not-so-good things be addressed head-on, with a focus toward improvement.
The role of internal communications – with genuine inclusion of diverse voices, including those with the least power in the organization – is therefore key.
To that point, ECI provides in its toolkit detailed discussion guides, group-session agendas, question sets, and talking points, to help anticipate challenging topics in advance and work through the mechanics of moderator-led conversations that help participants feel included, heard, and respected.
States ECI in its Toolkit:
“As a manager and leader, you play an integral part in creating an environment that allows employees to thrive; makes them feel safe and supported; and promotes openness and candor so issues are raised and addressed, rather than festering.”
Those of us working in public relations possess unique skill sets, perspectives, and sensitivities toward aligning messages we communicate with the authenticity of lived experiences by diverse stakeholders who interact with the brands we represent.
As such, PR’s voice should always be at the boardroom and c-suite tables, helping lead and shepherd honest conversations about ethics and any necessary change-agentry that an organization should consider, so that stakeholders can understand, respect, and trust the management team and the brand.
This #PRethics Month, please consider the ECI Ethics & Compliance Toolkit as a starting point for valuable ethics conversations.
Even if your organization already has a strong, positive culture (and your stakeholder data credibly substantiates those performance indicators), this Toolkit can nonetheless be valuable as an internal status-check toward best-practices.
In addition, your knowledge of this Toolkit can help you refer it to other colleagues or clients who might be struggling with these issues and in need of good resources.
Please follow along on social media with the PRCA’s offerings this Ethics Month (#PRethics), and lend your voice to the online conversations. Your colleagues want to hear from you.
Mary Beth West, APR, FPRCA, serves as a senior strategist with U.S.-based Fletcher Marketing PR. She can be followed online @marybethwest and contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Download her new white paper on PR industry ethics codes.