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Leading with Integrity: An Ethics-Based Approach for Business Innovation and Growth

How can in-house GCs lead in doing good not only at their companies but across their greater community? And how do companies balance the needs of the business with the desire of their individual employees to realize their civic responsibilities?

When you bring this all together you see a company is composed of awareness of organizational ethics and organizational awareness and you can't leave that to default. You have to actually build a very conscious program around that.

Nicole Diaz

Traditionally, general counsel are keepers of compliance, ensuring policies are followed to protect a company from risk. However, because of this role, employees tend to fear and even distrust their Legal and HR departments.

Chesnut suggested this stigma can be countered by Legal and a CEO leading with integrity, for example, enacting a human-centered program featuring authenticity and empathy.

Chesnut, author of Intentional Integrity, shared how Airbnb created a culture of ethics across its 2,000+ employees by employing the 6 C’s of Corporate Integrity and building an Ethics Advisors program.

Key takeaways

Here’s some really important things you should remember:

  • CEO: If the CEO acts with integrity, then it will flow throughout the organization. The other 5 C’s won’t matter if you don’t have leadership demonstrating the values and intentional integrity.
  • Code of Ethics: It needs to be authentic and include input from a diverse group of stakeholders. Additionally, the Code should adopt the unique language of the company. For example, Airbnb’s vision is “Foster belonging around the world” and its mission is to “help create a world where you can belong anywhere and where people can live in a place, instead of just traveling to it.” The resulting integrity program’s brand tagline is “Integrity belongs here.”
  • Communicate the Code: Once you draft and finalize the Code, promote it company-wide.
  • Clear reporting system: Identity ways people can report and talk about problems.
  • Consequences: When the code is violated, you have to be able to follow up with clear and appropriate consequences regardless how important or powerful the person is.
  • Constant Communication: Keep the communication drumbeat going so that it becomes part of the cultural fabric of your organization.







Leading with Integrity: An Ethics-Based Approach for Business Innovation and Growth

Dive into something interesting

Turn good intentions into action

  • Volunteer programs
  • Employee giving programs
  • Providing PTO for volunteering
  • Partnering with outside counsel

Ensure diversity and inclusion for in-house strategies & programs

Rise to the issues of great moment



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