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Tone on the team: The fourth ethical dimension

Steve Hager (srhager@aaamichigan.com) is Ethics Program Manager and Cris Mattoon (cqmattoon@aaamichigan.com) is Assistant Vice President, Compliance & Ethics at The Auto Club Group in Dearborn, Michigan, USA.

Organizations, whether they are for-profit corporations, nonprofits, or government agencies, must rely upon their employees to exercise ethical behavior. Historically, organizations have published codes of conduct, policies, and work rules to guide employees in their day-to-day activities. Most employees are inclined to act in accordance with such guidance, but countless corporate and government agency scandals have demonstrated that some individuals succumb to (or even actively engage in) ethical lapses that result in tangible harm to others and civil and criminal penalties. Innovative organizations have improved employee engagement and reduced risk by using additional tools and methods effectively. Moving beyond tone at the top and the mood in the middle, you should be striving to achieve an embedded tone that permeates the entire team.

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