Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Marshaling Integrity - Linda Lipps

These excerpts are taken from our interview of Linda Lipps, a compliance officer who worked her way up into the field.

I’ve been in the Ethics arena since 1996. I was in an HR role with a large privately-owned company in Houston, and one of the principal owners came to me and said, “Linda, we’re thinking about implementing a values-based ethics program, and I’d like for you to become involved and work with our general counsel on this.” At the time, even from an HR perspective, to hear the term “values-based ethics program” was pretty unfamiliar. I really was clueless about what he was talking about, but I started doing some research, and of course, came across the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, and spent many hours talking with our general counsel. I decided this was something that was really intriguing to me, that I would enjoy doing, and could still use my people skills.

I started working with our general counsel, as well as our vice president of human resources, and spent a year just researching, because in 1996, there wasn’t a whole lot out there. We joined the Ethics Officers Association; I remember the first EOA meeting I went to, we filled a large, private dining room in a hotel. Today, EOA has to search for a hotel property to host a conference in order to be able to accommodate everyone. Within the first year, I attended an executive course, co-hosted by Bentley College and EOA, near Boston called Managing Ethics in Organizations (MEO). So from research, the EOA, networking and an executive course, we started putting a program together: implementing a helpline, putting in a case management database, designing a code of conduct, and rolling out ethics training. I was with this company for five years.

If someone is out there, and wants to get involved in the world of ethics, the best way to do it is to try to get on with a company and start out handling some of the calls for case intake. That provides you a really broad feel and understanding of what the employees’ issues and concerns are.

Linda Lipps' interview appears in both Working for Integrity and Building a Career in Compliance and Ethics.

(All interviewees spoke to us about their own personal experiences and opinions; interviewees were not acting as a spokesperson or otherwise representing their current or former employers.)