Why Decency? April 20, 2020 Issue #1: from pages 166 – 167 of The Decency Code We selected the term “decency” for this book because we wanted a wor

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Why Decency?

April 20, 2020

Issue #1: from pages 166 – 167 of The Decency Code

We selected the term “decency” for this book because we wanted a word that reflects our view that small, constructive institutionalized gestures build great companies, families, and communities. It follows that developing and enabling a civil environment helps fortify a company against misconduct. By fertilizing the foundation of corporate cultures with decencies, there’s a likelihood that real engagement will improve, and a better than even chance that compliance initiatives can more easily take root.

Decencies serve a culture by adding impact to ethical standards. Leaders play a prominent role in this process. When the “little things”—small yet meaningful gestures—take hold, they create stories and traditions that can enrich a culture. They can be felt by everyone. They are a unifying set of experiences that coalesce into resilient, value-driven cultures, resistant to the corner-cutting that is preliminary to serious misconduct. It turns out that “little things” have a much bigger impact than we generally imagine and often last a long time.

We also observe that groups of small decencies tend to have a synergistic impact. That is, when you add the small decencies together, their impact is much larger than expected. A leader’s commitment to a civil and enabling business environment is essential. Small decencies—gestures that are visible, actionable, and scalable—are part of that commitment. Woven into the fabric of a corporate culture, the following acts make the concepts of respect and integrity more vivid and palpable:

1. Leadership accessibility and transparency
2. Non-financial rewards (“psychic income”) such as exhibiting trust and handwritten notes of thanks or job-well-done
3. Downsizing with empathy, sympathy, sensitivity, candor, honesty, and continuously constructive communication when downsizing is necessary
4. Banning executive pomposity and pretentious perks and demonstrating the power of humility

Every absence of decency where decency is needed dilutes the culture of an organization. The stories that a company tells about itself are critical. Institutionalized decency gives everyone in the organization important clues about what its values are and how committed it is to the expression of these values.

We believe there is cause for optimism. After all, an ethics industry has been born, complete with a global association, the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE). Important new roles have been created: chief compliance officer, chief ethics officer, chief corporate social responsibility officer.

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Book Title: The Decency Code: The Leader’s Path to Building Integrity and Trust

ISBN: 978-1260455397