Diversity, Compliance, Ethics & In-House Counsel
19 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2017
Date Written: MAY 1, 2017
Empirical evidence demonstrates that America’s diverse population holds differing approaches to ethics, compliance, and risk. In-house counsel can harness these differences to assure that a firm’s conduct comports with, and acclimates to, the differing ethical and compliance sensibilities and sensitivities within the general population, and within key corporate constituencies such as labor, investor and consumer pools. Essentially, in-house counsel can assure that any proposed business conduct or transaction clears all relevant filters—not just the traditional white male filter—and advise senior management accordingly. Counsel wishing in good faith to stem misconduct would hold an additional tool: feedback from within the firm, or from outside counsel, that diverse perspectives found the proposed course of business or transaction objectionable. Only management uninterested in acclimating the firm to the cultural diversity within key corporate constituencies would proceed in the face of such feedback. While cultural diversity alone will not compensate for the flawed legal frameworks at play in this arena, it may arm in-house counsel with tools that can deliver superior outcomes more often than traditionally has been the case. At the very least, enhanced cultural diversity embedded in a screening function within the firm, that is armed with the tools for a heterogeneous assessment of the most dubious firm practices, provides the firm with an objective and rigorous basis for determining the ethicality and costs of a given practice or course of conduct. The firm will at least find itself well-equipped to acclimate itself to its key constituencies and that should stem the costliest corporate misconduct. Given the macroeconomic catastrophe that followed the collapse of the financial sector in 2008 and 2009, improvement may prove easy.
Keywords: Compliance, Ethics, Diversity, Corporate Governance
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