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The Business Ethics Twin-Track: Combining Controls and Culture to Minimise Reputational Risk by Steve Giles

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Prologue

OPENING

Corporate values: an old story

‘RICE’

In the mid 1990s a company in the United States attracted much acclaim for the innovative way that it talked about itself and what it stood for. This company developed a ‘vision and values’ platform to demonstrate to investors and employees (and also to third-party stakeholders such as customers, suppliers and the local communities where its operations were based) that it was committed to good business ethics. This commitment was most memorably summarised in the pithy and catchy acronym ‘RICE’. Each letter in the acronym stood for one of the four core values that the organisation claimed underpinned its entire approach to business: respect, integrity, communication and excellence.

This was an impressive message, delivered in a highly innovative way. The company would respect everybody that it did business with. It would carry out all of its activities in the ‘right’ way, abiding by the law, keeping its word and meeting all of its obligations. The company would not only talk to people, it would listen to them too. And finally its people and the products and services that it provided could be relied upon because they were all underpinned by the highest level of technical competence and proficiency that guaranteed consistency of performance.

What was not to like about this? The so-called ‘RICE model’ was both smart (the acronym was put together by clever people to be ‘catchy’ so that everyone would remember it easily) and ...

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