Harold Tinkler, Deloitte & Touche LLP's chief ethics and compliance officer, told Baruch College's first Ethics Week forum that culture, controls and consequences are the elements necessary to creating a successful and ethically managed company.
Speaking to students, alumni and members of the business community in a speech titled, "New Climate, New Demands: Today's Corporate Ethics," Tinkler emphasized that while there has been a lot of remedial action taking place because of new regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 that there are core elements essential to any company wanting to be successful and ethically secure.
Calling these elements the "Three C's" -- culture, controls and consequences" -- Tinkler believes that corporate culture, though intangible and different for each company, is an important consideration in creating an environment where ethics are a priority and lead from the topmost ranks of executive management.
"Ultimately, creating an ethical culture comes down to company leadership and its ability to convey, through their actions and examples, the right way to do things," he said. "It's worth noting that an ethical corporate culture means a lot more than words and empty slogans."
The second core element necessary to establishing an ethical environment is "C" for controls, pointed out the chief ethics and compliance officer. "Businesses today are required to renew their focus on internal control and the systems of checks and balances that safeguard the integrity of financial and operating data. Initially, many companies thought the new rules were unnecessary. But once they examined the details more closely, they found weaknesses in their control systems that needed to be fixed," he said
Tinkler defined the third key element in creating ethical awareness as "consequences."
"Corporate America must realize there are costs. As disturbing as it is to watch the current parade of corporate executives on trial, I value the message it conveys - that there's accountability at stake, and a price to pay."
Tinkler serves on the Professional Ethics Committee of the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants and is an active past and present board member for The Inner-City Foundation, The Child Guidance Center, The United Way of Stamford and the Wilton Y.