When you consider the most successful companies in the marketplace today, three key benchmarks come to mind in evaluating leadership: intelligence quotient, emotional quotient, and morality quotient. While IQ and EQ are well-established symbols, MQ more recently came into the conversation. The year of 2020, with the proliferation of COVID-19 and the protests over police brutality and Black Lives Matter, has definitely solidified the need for companies to place a high priority on their morality quotient as well.
How do leaders determine their company’s morality quotient? Morality is defined as “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.” In essence, the concept of morality quotient is centered around doing the right thing. We should note that there are a few different schools of thought on whether morality and ethics are interchangeable or vastly different. We’re not going to get into that topic for brevity purposes. No matter what you call it, your company’s morality quotient is worth evaluating as part of your continuous improvement processes.
There are a few aspects to consider when determining your company’s morality quotient. First, what positive aspects are building up your morality quotient? Are you involved in an industry that is making a lasting impact in the world: education, healthcare, renewable energy, telecommunications, public transportation? Are you performing business operations in a manner that promotes positive change (example: allowing employees to work remotely and decreasing the amount of commuting, using renewable energy and resources in your office setting, providing ample healthcare benefits (including mental and emotional wellness pieces). Lastly, are you creating a culture of trust and security, providing employees a safe space to be themselves, speak their mind, and call out any injustices or problems as they arise?
You can also monitor where your company’s morality quotient stands by evaluating any aspects of your business that may be working against the building process. For example, does your company produce items that can be seen as harmful, like tobacco or alcohol? Are there operations your company participates in that are harmful to the environment? Do you have investments tied up in companies that have a questionable morality quotient?
In an interview in Forbes, three CEOs were asked to weigh in on morality and ethics. All were in agreement that there should be a high value assigned to corporate ethics and social responsibility as drivers to business.
Dan Amos, Chairman and CEO at Aflac, stressed that building a moral culture begins at the top. Leadership needs to provide the moral compass in order for it to work. He also recommends communicating and celebrating responsibility within the organization regularly. And adds that morality can’t be done “partially.”
Timothy Erblich, CEO of Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices, provides seven requirements for building up your company’s MQ:
- Empower managers at the local level as they provide immediate guidance to employees
- Commitment, because socially-responsible cultures are not built overnight
- A focus on integrity
- Tone from the top–the c-suite must be all in
- Measure and communicate results
- Make sure this culture is your regular routine–not just something introduced at survey time
- Lean on third parties to help alleviate employee concerns over speaking their mind in an open and honest way
Once you’ve established parameters to build your company’s morality quotient, the best method for measuring results is through regular surveys of employees, shareholders and customers. Again, as Erblich mentions, utilizing a third party for this will allow for unbiased results and an objective view of where you may need to make some changes.
Today more than ever, companies need to establish and invest in their morality quotient. Determining what values you stand for as an organization, and how to communicate those effectively so that everyone is on board is key to growing your organization to be a top player in today’s marketplace.