Maintaining High Ethical Standards More Than Just The Right Thing To Do

Having a strong ethical culture in your business is not only the right thing to do, but it drives business performance and improves the bottom line, the head of CUNA Mutual Group’s ethics and compliance area told a CUNA Human Resources and Training and Development Council Conference audience Monday.

For more information: 
Phil Tschudy 608.665.7188 philip.tschudy@cunamutual.com
Rick Uhlmann 608.665.8940 rick.uhlmann@cunamutual.com
 
April 28, 2014

Maintaining High Ethical Standards More Than Just The Right Thing To Do
Businesses Also Reap Better Financial Results, CUNA Mutual Group Speaker Tells CUNA HR/TD Audience

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Having a strong ethical culture in your business is not only the right thing to do, but it drives business performance and improves the bottom line, the head of CUNA Mutual Group’s ethics and compliance area told a CUNA Human Resources and Training and Development Council Conference audience Monday.

“Research over the past 10 years shows a positive correlation between business performance and companies with high integrity,” said Steve Koslow, SVP, chief ethics and compliance officer.

A study conducted by the Compliance & Ethics Leadership Council (CELC) showed a strong connection between the health of corporate culture and total shareholder return.

“This relationship suggests the expanding influence and impact of culture over the long term. While a healthy culture can drive stronger business performance, a weak ethics culture could hinder business performance,” Koslow said. “As consumers become more aware of this positive relationship between company integrity and shareholder return, you can expect their investment dollars will gravitate to more ethical companies.”

An ethical culture also increases loyalty with employees, customers and vendors. “It helps keep employees more engaged and aligned with company values, which can increase productivity.”

Citing data from corporate regulatory and culture consultant LRN and public relations firm Edelman, Koslow said a strong ethics program can help credit unions:

  • Attract top talent (94 percent of employees surveyed by LRN stated it is “critical” or “important” that the company they work for is ethical).
  • Retain good, engaged employees (According to LRN, 36 percent of employees left a job because they disagreed with the company’s ethical standards for doing business).
  • Create a positive reputation. This attracts loyal customers and better suppliers (85 percent of customers surveyed in Edelman’s Trust Barometer indicated they will go out of their way to buy from a company they trust).

CUNA Mutual Group has seen the benefits of having a strong ethical culture. Despite U.S. economic challenges over the years, the insurer has consistently delivered strong financial results and attributes some of the success to its culture, Koslow added.

For the second straight year, CUNA Mutual Group has been recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute, an independent international think tank that rates companies’ business ethics and social responsibility practices. The company has also been recognized as one of the “Best Companies to Work For” by Greater Madison (Wis.) InBusiness magazine.

“A reputation of trust is critical to maintain and grow your customer base, especially for a business like ours, which sells a promise to pay in the future.”

Koslow said CUNA Mutual Group took definitive actions to solidify its ethics program and culture. It strengthened its code of conduct to ensure its ethical foundation was relevant and accurate, and it assessed employees’ perceptions through an anonymous all-employee survey.

“We used that strong foundation and survey information to determine the future direction of our program and better understand the most efficient and effective opportunities to embed the ethics mentality into everyday behaviors.”

CUNA Mutual Group’s ethics program is comprised of four main elements:

  1. Our Values, Code & Policies – This defines and articulates the company’s ethical expectations and practices. It is achieved by maintaining a strong, relevant code of conduct and corporate values that leaders and employees demonstrate.
  2. Training & Awareness Program – It ensures all employees understand and are aware of ethical expectations through formal required training and annual communications.
  3. Ethics Support – An environment is created whereby employees feel comfortable speaking up and are enabled to act ethically.
  4. Metrics & Reporting – Key program information, initiatives, disclosure statistics and internal investigation activity trends are reported annually to the board of directors and company leadership.

Although these elements work for CUNA Mutual Group, Koslow said there is no one-size-fits-all ethics program structure because each company’s culture is unique. “What’s important is having a program that aligns with your values and resonates with your employees. It should be tailored to your culture.”

To learn more, follow @CUNAMutualGroup on Twitter, circle +CUNA Mutual Group on Google+, or visit http://www.cunamutual.com/pressroom.

CUNA Mutual Group was founded in 1935 by credit union pioneers, and our commitment to their vision continues today. We offer insurance and protection for credit unions, employees and members; lending solutions and marketing programs; TruStage®-branded consumer insurance products; and investment and retirement services to help our customers succeed. More information is available on the company’s website at www.cunamutual.com.

CUNA Mutual Group is the marketing name for CUNA Mutual Holding Company, a mutual insurance holding company, its subsidiaries and affiliates. Life, accident, health and annuity insurance products are issued by CMFG Life Insurance Company. Property and casualty insurance products are issued by CUMIS Insurance Society, Inc. Each insurer is solely responsible for the financial obligations under the policies and contracts it issues. Corporate headquarters are located in Madison, Wisconsin.

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