On Friday 4 December 2015, the second edition of Café Public was held at the Vlerick Business School in Brussels. Through Café Public, KPMG aims to bring responsible parties from the public sector together to discuss a number of important and current challenges for the government.
After a first, successful edition about the digital government, this second edition focused on the importance of integrity management in times of change. By way of introduction to this session, Els Hostyn (Partner, KPMG Advisory) provided an overview of eight critical success factors for the implementation of an effective integrity policy:
- Firstly, it is important to monitor the clarity of the policy. Employees need to know and truly understand what is expected from them. Other than what is documented, key is also how this policy is communicated towards all employees within the organization.
- A second success factor is role modelling. Not only do employees observe the behavior of their role models, they are often also inclined to copy it. The role of managers when rolling out the integrity policy should not be underestimated.
- In addition, the policy needs to be feasible. The expectations that are set in terms of ethical behavior must be realistic and may certainly not clash with other objectives that are imposed on the employees.
- As a fourth factor, it is assessed to what extent employees feel committed to the integrity policy. An important aspect here is that employees can easily identify themselves with the concept of integrity and apply this to their own role within the organization.
- Furthermore, the success of the policy will also depend on the extent to which an organization is successful in creating the necessary transparency surrounding the effects and consequences of unethical behavior. It must be clear for all within the organization how integrity violations are dealt with.
- Integrity is never simply black and white, which is exactly why the organization must create an atmosphere in which employees can and dare to discuss uncertainties and dilemmas with their colleagues and managers in all openness.
- A seventh success factor is the extent to which employees are comfortable to report any issues without having to fear retaliatory action. In the event of most integrity violations, it appears that employees within the organization had suspicions of misbehavior. It is important to have such concerns out in the open as quickly and as objectively as possible.
- Finally, the enforcement of the integrity policy will play a key role in its success. Employees need to realize and believe that ethical behavior is appreciated and that unethical behavior will be met with disciplinary action. It is essential to remain consistent in the enforcement, regardless of who is displaying misconduct.