In my doctoral thesis “Is it not common sense to do the right thing?” I explore the Telia scandal and the implementation of renewed ethical business practices in the midst of allegations of environmental, social and governance lapses. I argue that the call for formal ethics and compliance work may risk becoming counterproductive if the more informal aspects of the work are not acknowledged. The effectiveness of the ethics and compliance work seem to be reliant upon the compliance officer and how well they cope with “ethical struggles,” whether the person is persistent enough to continue bringing ethical dilemmas to the table and information that may challenge existing practices and decisions. If the compliance officer subdues to the ethical struggles the compliance work risk remaining as a “paper program” with little impact on the actual business practices and decision making. To support the compliance officer it is vital to have adequate governance and control mechanisms in place.
Compliance work that is not perceived as” uncomfortable” will likely not be have a lasting impact. I encourage all decision-makers, including the board and executive management, to assess the effectiveness of the compliance work within their organization by how “uncomfortable” it feels.
In the book 'The Grey Zone - a practical guide to corporate conduct, compliance and business ethic' the authors Michaela Ahlberg and Anna Romberg describe what it takes to put the policies, processes and framework of compliance in place. This is hard work indeed, but not enough to ensure real and lasting change. To achieve change one must also look at the compliance methodology as a tool to make the dilemmas visible, enabling and empowering leaders to tackle them. Dilemmas are rarely black or white, different priorities and human factors add to the complexity creating a grey zone of right and wrong. The book shows leaders how to step up and navigate the grey zone to make decisions, defining who they and their companies truly are.
RECENT Articles & blog posts
Michaela Ahlberg and Anna Romberg on Rethinking the Compliance Program [Podcast]
Covid-19 is impacting how and where we work and many companies are redesigning what business as usual will mean in the future. Read an interview as part of Laurence Simons Search Talking Heads series.
In Nordic companies, it's not common to speak up
A recent survey by the Nordic Business Ethics Network into how 1,500 employees in Finland, Norway and Sweden, perceive ethics at their workplaces reveal that over 90 percent value an ethical working place higher than a salary increase or a promotion. Despite this, over 80 percent have witnessed unethical behavior at their workplace during the last year.
TASAPAINOILUA HARMAALLA ALUEELLA – KORRUPTIORISKIN HALLINTA
Riskiblogissa käsittelemme riskienhallinnan kenttää laidasta laitaan ja tällä kertaa halusimme kirjoittaa erittäin mielenkiintoisesta, mutta hieman vaikeasti lähestyttävästä aiheesta, korruptioriskin hallinnasta. Tapasimme marraskuisena maanantaiaamuna hyvän kahvin ja runsaan aamupalalautasen äärellä korruptioriskin ehkäisemisen ja hallitsemisen asiantuntijan Anna Rombergin ja juttelimme hyvän tovin aiheesta, erityisesti kotimaisen, kansainvälisesti toimivan konsernin näkökulmasta.
Vastuullisuuspäätöksiä tehdään päivittäin
Yrityksiltä edellytetään nykyään yhä suurempaa vastuullisuutta, ja niiden toimia seurataan eri tasolla kuin aiemmin. On helppoa sanoa olevansa vastuullinen yritys, mutta sen toteuttaminen vaatii paljon työtä, johdon sitoutumista, resursseja – sekä kykyä sanoa tarvittaessa ei. ”Globaalissa liiketoiminnassa on aina omat haasteensa. Vastuullisuuden suhteen pitää olla nöyrä, eikä voi tuudittautua omaan asemaansa”, toteaa Anna Romberg.
Telia company – paving the way for responsible business Stockholm School of Economics working paper series 09/ 2017
In the past few years, the quest for responsible and sustainable business has emerged as a major theme in academic and practical management discourse. The increasingly intense debate on ethical and social responsible business and the quest for responsible leadership put contemporary business models and current leadership praxis under severe public scrutiny. This paper is written within the framework of a research project that explores the linkages between responsible leadership, sustainable business, innovation, and growth in Swedish-based corporations with a global outreach. The case illustrates how (ir)responsible business behaviour was addressed in a Swedish tele- communication company challenged with allegations of bribery and human rights violations in its Eurasian business. The research is based on collaborative case-study approach. The data-collection covers round-table seminars, interviews and documentary material.
TELIA Case Study Addressing (ir)responsible business behavior Researchgate 02/ 2019
This case provides an example of how (ir)responsible business behaviour was addressed in a Swedish tele- communication company. The company was in a mode of crisis after allegations of bribery and human rights violations in its Eurasian business. The change process covers the creation of and Ethics and Compliance function that had as its purpose the development of a framework for compliance with a particular focus on the design and implementation of an effective anti-corruption program. This case is written within the framework of a research project that explores the linkages between responsible leadership, sustainable business, innovation, and growth in Swedish-based corporations with a global outreach. The case is aiming for new insights regarding how to create a methodology to implement responsible business behaviour