Ethics & Compliance Leadership Forum

The Board of Directors' Role in Compliance & Ethics

In times of deep uncertainty, the strategic role of a corporate board is critical. The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed leaders toward a broader view of risk, and it continues to expose vulnerabilities, both direct (e.g. liability as employees return to offices) and related (e.g. cybersecurity weaknesses exacerbated by the crisis). As companies develop new models of scenario planning, their boards are striving both for efficiency and for longer-term resiliency. The Ethics and Compliance Leadership Forum (ECLF) will explore the roles of values, corporate culture, and ethical decision making in securing a long-term future for businesses.

  • Higher visibility on corporate behavior. Executive management plays a pivotal role in cultivating an environment in which integrity thrives or is undermined. Tone at the top is more critical than ever. How do directors work with CEOs and management teams to ensure that the pressure from the Covid-19 crisis does not undermine values and ethical behavior?

  • Effective board oversight to prevent risk and serious misconduct. Disruption and chaos can foster a climate in which people at multiple levels cut corners or behave in ways they would avoid under more stable conditions. Which board committee(s) should lead the critical task of overseeing conduct risk? What are the key cross-functional executives that can advise the board around the strategy and scope of oversight? When should they engage third party support?

  • Communicating the importance of corporate culture. How can board oversight ensure companies are signaling a commitment to ethical behavior? What metrics can boards adopt to evaluate culture?

  • Integrating enterprise risk management, law and HR. Safeguarding company integrity requires influencing human behavior at all levels, and, in many cases, with related firms – suppliers, for example, and operational partners. This requires many groups to work together. How does the board create the right environment and incentives for this to occur?

  • Recovery from scandal. A breach of trust, or even a misunderstanding, can impact consumers, suppliers, and brand reputation. When inevitable problems occur, how do companies best rebound? How can directors learn from the mistakes and successes of other companies in this regard?

The first meeting of the Forum is being sponsored by LRN, Inc., a company committed to fostering principled performance and inspiring, rather than requiring, people to do the right thing. Top LRN leaders will bring their experience and insights to the Forum.

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