An ethics scandal can rock any business. All it takes is one person to jeopardize the integrity and reputation of your company. Government organizations are also vulnerable to ethical issues, as was the case when Scott Pruitt resigned from the Environmental Protection Agency. His resignation was due to allegations of ethical lapses, including spending taxpayer money on a $43,000 soundproof phone booth.
An ethics officer can help ensure your business stays on track legally and ethically. Sometimes referred to as a compliance officer or a chief compliance and ethics officer, this executive can help protect the reputation of your company and ensure that your working environment is safe and professional for employees.
An ethics officer typically has a minimum of a bachelor's degree and several years of experience in a related field.
What to Look for in an Ethics Officer
Since an ethics officer typically reports to the CEO or another high-ranking executive in the company, your ethics officer should have a background similar to your other top executives. At a minimum, this would include a bachelor’s degree and several years of experience with increasing levels of responsibility. A master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis on ethics or compliance would also help prepare potential candidates.
In addition to related work experience and relevant educational experience, you may also want a candidate certified in ethics and compliance by the Compliance Certification Board or another professional organization.
As you interview candidates for an ethics officer position assess how the candidate responds to different scenarios. The right candidate should have a history of conducting herself in a fair and principled way and be comfortable bringing difficult situations to the attention of her superiors.
How an Ethics Officer Can Help Your Business
An ethics officer oversees the ethics and compliance of your business. Depending on your field, an ethics manager job description typically includes monitoring compliance with external rules, such as governmental organizations, and overseeing compliance with internal regulations and policies.
On a day-to-day basis, an ethics officer can review your company’s policies and make recommendations. She can educate your employees on best practices to ensure compliance and stay on top of regulations that impact your business. If there is an ethical issue at any level of the company, she should be willing to tackle the issue or report it to the appropriate party.
How Much to Offer an Ethics Officer
Since an ethics officer is typically an executive-level position, the pay should be similar to that of other top executives. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for top executives is $104,700. Other benefits like a flexible work schedule, comprehensive health insurance or stock options may also appeal to potential ethics officer candidates.