My mentor explained the difference between compliance and ethics this way: “Compliance answers the question ‘Can we?’ Ethics answers the question ‘Should we?'”
The implicit instruction is that we must ask the second question after we’ve answered “Yes” to the first one.
As we start to appreciate the importance of corporate culture, I suggest that there is a third question: “How will it affect our culture?”
This third question forces us to think about how we will implement our decision. Our goal may be legal, it may be the right thing to do, but there might be a number of ways it can be accomplished. Some ways might improve the organization’s culture while others might hurt it.
To quote Dov Seidman, “How we do things matters as much as what we do.”