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Tomorrow's Company and the Ethics of Culture Change

Better-place-signRecently a colleague of mine attended a Tomorrow’s Company lecture in London as a guest of CIMA. Tomorrow’s Company is a London-based think tank that offers lectures and publications on issues like leadership and talent, sustainability and governance. CIMA, as a corporate member of Tomorrow’s Company, sponsors some lectures, as they did on this particular evening. The lecture she attended was given by Dick Olver, Chairman of BAE Systems, one of the world’s largest defense contractors.

Dick’s lecture was titled "A journey of culture change" and centered around his organization’s successful efforts in the area of ethics. With Dick’s appointment as chairman, he ushered in a complete overhaul of the company’s culture. He said, “The culture we’ve tried to develop is one in which our people take the company’s core ethical values into account in every decision they take. One where doing the right thing becomes an almost subconscious response.”

The lecture was a great tie in to one of the themes we did for CGMA titled, "Doing the right thing." Our flagship report for this theme was "Managing responsible business – a global survey on business ethics" – a great read on the challenges businesses face and the role management accountants can play in filling ethical gaps within their organizations.

During the Tomorrow’s Company lecture, Dick gave this five-pronged approach to transparency:

  1. Ensure your board is world-class;
  2. Fill the pipeline with future leaders who walk the talk and aren’t afraid to stand up and fight for what’s right;
  3. Take note of where your organization’s culture is today and where it is going tomorrow;
  4. Sustain and grow an internal culture of continuous improvement; and
  5. Grow external stakeholder relationships.

When my colleague recounted some of Dick's speech, I was struck by how much of the tone was echoed in what we have put out for CGMA designation holders on CGMA.org. It inspired me to go back and re-read our Ethical reflection checklist—which I encourage you to do, too. And leave a comment below sharing your thoughts on organizational ethics. How does your business do the right thing?

Finally, I’m really excited to be able to tell you that we will be bringing a Tomorrow’s Company lecture to the U.S. this fall. More information will be posted to CGMA.org when available.

Arleen Thomas, CPA, CGMA, Senior Vice President - Management Accounting, American Institute of CPAs. 

Better place sign image via Shutterstock

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