Fueled by recent corporate accounting scandals and heightened scrutiny from shareholders and federal regulators, more companies are ramping up ethics training programs for executives and employees.
“Over the last 18 months, we've seen a dramatic increase in the number of our customers with business ethics and accountability training programs for managers and executives,” says Myron Curry, president of Business Training Media Inc., an Encino, Calif.-based provider of work-force training programs.
“The whole Enron crisis really got my business off the ground,” reports Mark Putnam, president, Character Training Inc., Bothell, Wash. When he started consulting with corporations in the late 1990s, the curriculum was more focused on character and personal development training; now, it concentrates more on compliance issues, theft, e-mail privacy, and business ethics. Earlier this year, he created a program specifically for managers and executives.
“Companies are starting to focus on ways to reduce risk — and part of that is through ethics training,” says George Jones, president, Change Makers Inc., a Houston-based ethics consultant. “It's not an attempt to teach people to behave ethically,” explains Jones. Rather, his goal is to improve executives' ability to analyze their risks by seeing them through the eyes of other stakeholders. His sessions give companies “tools to help strengthen their cultures in favor of ethical behavior.”