Where is the top?

I’ll never forget a discovery I made during an international trip early in my career as an Ethics & Compliance Officer.

I was traveling with the Corporate Vice President of Global Ethics & Compliance and a few other senior leaders from our US headquarters. We were touring Asia to conduct program reviews and provide training. During a presentation, our VP referred to our company’s CEO by his first name, George, several times. Later on, a junior manager timidly approached me to ask who that “George” was. When I told him George’s last name, he still had no clue who the CEO was.

E&C teams in large organizations need to keep this in mind when creating the all-important “tone at the top”. For many employees, the top is their boss’ boss. Or perhaps their country manager. But rarely is it the Regional President or the Business Unit President, let alone the CEO. These people mean nothing to them.

I’ll grant you that things are changing with the increased use of video messages from senior leaders that are delivered to employees’ mobile devices, a trend accelerated by the current pandemic. Nevertheless, the importance of middle management being visible and vocal on the importance of E&C remains today.

What specific tools are you providing them?

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