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Ethics officers have personal liabilities too

If you have a responsibility for ethics in your company, you may be exposed to personal risks

Have you considered whether there are any risks associated with your role as an ethics champion in your company? What might be the consequences of, for example, delving into sensitive areas or being unable to respond when something seems wrong because of lack of support. Is it possible that you could be ostracized, dismissed or face legal action?

The increasing profile of ethics matters in business generally and the increased visibility of the ethics function has created new opportunities and responsibilities for ethics representatives, ie those working in an ethics role. Consequently, ERs may find themselves facing a new exposure to personal risk and, in some cases, legal liabilities.

In 2008, the head of internal audit and legal at a public cleaning service company, Berliner Stadtreinigung, was convicted for failing to act on evidence of customer overcharging. When he became aware of the systematic overcharging, in the region of some €23m,...

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