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A Strong Culture Requires Ethical Leadership

&The key to building a strong culture within an organization is ensuring that ethics are defined, understood and practiced in the workplace,& said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, SHRM president and CEO.


A woman is giving a presentation to a group of people.


Company culture is a critical part of every organization. A strong culture can give employees purpose, attract new talent, provide guidance on how to act and communicate the ways to be successful. And one feature of successful cultures is ethics.

Ethical culture strength is on the rise. According to the Global Business Ethics Survey® from the Ethics & Compliance Initiative, in 2020 approximately 1 in 5 U.S. employees were in workplaces with a strong ethical culture compared with 1 in 10 in 2000. Globally, 14 percent of employees were working in organizations with a strong ethical culture.

"The key to building a strong culture within an organization is ensuring that ethics are defined, understood and practiced in the workplace," said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) president and chief executive officer.

In recognition of the importance of ethical leadership, the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, in partnership with SHRM, is pleased to announce the first‑ever Ethical Leader of the Year Award, to be presented by the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund at the opening session of the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2022 (SHRM22) in New Orleans on June 12. Nominations are open as of today.

After the nominations have been submitted, the final list of candidates will be determined by a committee of national leaders, including the following judges:

  • Marna C. Whittington, Committee Co-Chair. Marna brings to the leadership role of the Selection Committee her experience on the Boards of Directors of Phillips 66, Macy's and Oaktree Capital, as well as leadership roles at Morgan Stanley and Allianz.
  • Leo Denault, Chairman and CEO of Entergy Corporation.
  • Dan Cardinali, President and CEO of Independent Sector.
  • Caroline W. Nahas, Senior Advisor at Korn Ferry, and Chair of the Board of Advisors of the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. 
  • Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, President and CEO of SHRM. 

"I am pleased to be a judge on the committee for the Ethical Leader of the Year Award, and to recognize a CEO at SHRM22 who is causing the effect we wish to see in the workplace by going above and beyond to establish a high bar of ethics within their leadership and their organization," Taylor said.

Deborah Stadtler is Managing Editor of the SHRM Executive Network. 

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