SLS/FLS MOD engagement event

What it was:

Talks and conversations with senior leaders and alumni of development schemes, mainly from within defence, at the Ministry of Defence on 5 March 2018

What I learned:

  • Action Inquiry: Every moment is an opportunity for development, experiment, reflection
  • Exploit your competitive advantage
  • Seek out role models
  • Who you work with is more important than what you work on
  • Need to be sharp and concise on commissioning the right work from the right person
  • You can’t afford to have an off moment, especially when in large groups
  • Have respect for the people in your team; that means preparing properly when speaking to groups
  • As an introvert you need to be an actor, and build in recovery time on your own
  • “Positive deviance” – the ability to challenge and do things in New ways. Leaders need to be able to observe and enable this behaviour
  • In the second year of the schemes there is more onus on self organising networks. There is not an anchor – it becomes a fight to stay in contact with people.
  • Need to challenge the other people in your cohort, if they don’t contribute they are taking a place away from others who wanted to be on the scheme
  • FLS makes you better able to succeed at SCS interviews as it helps you frame your style, think about the emotional impact, talk about your corporate contribution
  • End of scheme reviews are in December January

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • Try to pursue partnerships with specific individuals who are likely on a similar development journey as me
  • Look up the “two pies” approach (?) that was mentioned
  • Make a concerted exploration on doing a secondment to industry
  • Practice being more precise in commissioning work from others
  • Take more time to prepare for speaking to the team
  • Gather contact details for others on development schemes and try to maintain the network

CIPR case study – Best Use of Social Media

What it was:

Review of a case study from the CIPR Awards for social media campaigns – MSL Group’s campaign -“Always #LIKEAGIRL”

Source: http://bit.ly/1GxUMn2

What I learned:

Key points from the campaign:

  • Activity was based on solid research insight (confidence plummeting at puberty).
  • Activity was very much in line with the grain of the brand’s previous activity i.e. supporting women and aspiration
  • Turned a well-worn pejorative on its head.
  • Global message was managed seamlessly across continents.
  • Campaign created an empowering call to action which has potential to become a movement.
  • Campaign harnessed celebrities and social media influencers.
  • Content yielded a very large number of earned media placements (approx 1900)

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

Use insight and research to understand pain-points and concerns for the target audience.

Make sure activity is in keeping with and strengthens any existing brand values or history.

As a potential creative avenue, explore common uses of language around the audience or topic and see if these can be subverted or challenged.

Think about whether a campaign can generate a movement which has life beyond the campaign.

Business Ethics across Generations

What it was:

A report on trends in attitudes to ethics in business, reviewed as part of my PR CPD.
Source: http://bit.ly/1RJl74H

What I learned:

Ageing  populations  and the new generation entering  the workplace are creating opportunities and challenges for employers in embedding ethics.

Understanding different characteristics of these generations is fundamental to building a culture founded on ethical values.

Four generations can be (loosely) identified:

  • Traditionalists (born between 1922 and 1945)
  • Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)
  • Generation X (born between 1965 and 1982)
  • Generation Y or Millennials (born between 1983 and 2004).

Millennials account for 25% of the workforce in the US and it is predicted that by 2020, they will form 50% of the global workforce

Boomers and Traditionalists seem to be less prepared than other age groups, as they developed professionally before such a function became commonplace. However, the underlying attitudes of these two generations seem to be less accepting of unethical behaviour.

Millennials want worthwhile work – a majority want to work for a company that makes a positive impact, half prefer purposeful work to a high salary, and 53% would work harder if they felt they were making a difference to others

Organisations should seek to leverage the different generations’ strengths, to create a working environment that values differences and bridges potential generational gaps

A strong ethics culture can motivate employees to do the right thing and increase employee engagement

Use of ethics ambassadors across the divide: Potentially,  Millennials can be effective ethics ambassadors as they are natural networkers and familiar with new technologies, but at the same time older employees may have a more established reputation for integrity.

Use of metrics and bench-marking to segment the workforce can be useful to understand the employee’s expectations from their job at different stages of their career.

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

Try to reflect likely communication styles of different generations in internal communications activities.

Remember different motivations of staff of different generations.

Consider use of “generational ambassadors” in internal campaigns.

Try to ensure that senior staff are aware of these differences when they communicate (junior staff likely to be a different generation from them!)

Be careful about following this analysis too slavishly – cannot discriminate against any one generation (Equalities Act) e.g. by assuming one generation is susceptible to acting unethically. 

Also a good idea to take such inter-generational analyses with a pinch of salt! 

 

Business Ethics and Artificial Intelligence 2018

What it was:

CIPR written briefing studied as part of Continuous Professional Development, 27 February 2018:
Source: https://www.ibe.org.uk/userassets/briefings/ibe_briefing_58_business_ethics_and_artificial_intelligence.pdf

What I learned:

AI is relevant to Business Ethics – for example, how do you ensure your organisation’s values are being applied if decisions are being made algorithmically?

Potential risks of AI:

  • Ethics risk
  • Workforce risk (loss of jobs /skills)
  • Technology risk (cyber-attacks)
  • Algorithmic risk (biased decisions)
  • Legal risk (privacy / GDPR)

AIs may be accurate but nonetheless reflect human biases.

Open-sourcing may be important for openness and trust in AI systems – this could be especially true in Govt where trust is critical and keep source closed is less important.

“Explainability” is key to AI trust and to working alongside an AI partner.

AI work and contracts should specify responsibilities carefully – AIs cannot be held responsible for their behaviour!

Some practical steps organisations can take:

  • Meta-decision-making to ensure AI systems act in line with organisational ethical values.
  • Make sure third party algorithms adhere to ethical standards.
  • Establish a multi-disciplinary Ethics Research Unit.
  • Introduce ‘ethics tests’ for AI machines, where they are presented with an ethical dilemma.
  • Ensure staff have access to relevant training courses and communications re: ethical use of AI

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

In future I will:

  • Think about ethical and legal and other risks of AI projects at the design stage
  • Continue my learning and investigation of AI as applied to my organisation’s business
  • Consider whether ethics, compliance and legal teams should be engaged in AI projects.

Attitudes of the British Public to Business Ethics 2017

What it was:

Review of an article on business ethics current trends as part of my CIPR CPD. Source: https://www.ibe.org.uk/userassets/briefings/ibe_survey_attitudes_of_the_british_public_to_business_ethics_2017.pdf

What I learned:

Trust in business ethics has recovered very slightly (48% to 52%) since last year

The key issues of concern are:

  • Corporate tax avoidance
  • Executive pay
  • Exploitative labour practices
  • Work/life balance

As an observation – these top 4 issues are (arguably) linked, focusing around perceived unfairness between senior executives and staff.

The report notes that the relative recovery in attitudes to business ethics could be driven by falls in attitudes to ethics in other sectors (presumably Government)

Among the lower-level issues of ethical concern, Human Rights has dropped off as a concern. Meanwhile Data/Privacy has grown as an issue of concern.

Millennials appear less concerned about data privacy, perhaps counter-intuitively?

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • Recognise that corporate reputation concerns are affected by current events and press coverage, just as in the public sector
  • Appreciate that the public’s issues of ethical concern evolve over time but show reasonable consistency from year to year – i.e. they are not overly driven by current events
  • Recognise that underlying themes (e.g. perceived unfairness between senior executives and staff) can manifest across numerous ethical themes
  • Remember that different generations of staff may react differently to ethical issues.