Business Ethics & Compliance 2

I’m currently in New York, at the Conference Board’s Business Ethics and Compliance Conference.

This is the second of 3 blog entries I’ll be doing from the conference.

I went to two very different sessions this afternoon. The first was on “Enforcing Ethics and Compliance in Your Supply Chain.” Speakers from Texas Instruments and El Paso Corporation (a natural gas pipeline company) talked about the challenges faced by their companies in making sure the companies they buy things from have their own ethics-and-compliance affairs in order. Both T.I. and E.P.C. are publicly-traded companies, subject to a range of “ethics” regulations, and are required by law to have in-house ethics programs. But many of the smaller firms they deal with are privately held, and hence aren’t legally required to have such programs. But in effect, in seeking to do business with big firms like T.I. and E.P.C., these smaller firms are in effect required to meet standards set by the SEC. Interesting questions from the audience during this session included:

  • Do big companies go beyond monitoring their suppliers, to monitoring their suppliers’ suppliers?
  • If a small company supplies goods and services to more than one large, publicly-traded company, are there ways for those big companies to avoid duplicating efforts (in terms of the time and effort expended to verify that the small company’s affairs are in order)?

The second session I attended was called “In Search of the Good Corporate Citizen,” a session about the documentary that bears that name (see the website here.) The show was originally aired on Connecticut Public Broadcasting, and was sponsored by Altria. The producers (Denny and Win Swenson) were at the session this afternoon, along with Frank Geovannello, Manager, Compliance and Integrity, for Altria. They showed a few segments of the video — real-life stories of corporate malfeasance, mostly, along with some panel-discussion segments. (It looks like a great teaching tool, both for university teaching and for corporate training.) The discussion today, sparked by the video, focused on issues such as the significance of excuse-giving and herd mentality in facilitating wrong-doing. Keep an eye on this blog for a review of the entire video in the coming weeks.

1 comment so far

  1. lightonpro on

    Thank you for coming to the session, Chris. It’s always nice to have a philosopher in the room especially when we get into topics like “the slippery slope,” “personal vs. group responsibility,” or the notion that “everyone is doing it.” I really liked the active participation of the audience. Isn’t it refreshing to see thoughtful professionals engaging with one another? Even when participants disagreed, there were thoughtful comments and exchanges all around.” – Denny Swenson


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