Most ethics audit programs have as their philosophy a process that checks on an organisation’s social and environmental performance. They include how well (or poorly) a company compares to the ethical standards of its industry or society.

The offerings have a list of items that need to be performed. These include checking up on ethical violations of codes, comparisons with codes of ethics (and the like), and frequently make reference to compliance policies, risk profiles, and remediation programs.

To me —

an ethics audit is an examination of the ethics programs of an organization.  How well do they work? What could be done to make them better?

My approach

My ethics audits include measuring the moral climate (which includes talking with group members), looking at reported ethical transgressions, and examining the remedial processes that are in place. How they are used?

  1. Gather — Collect all information of moral worth.
  2. Review — Review any moral codes (ethics, conduct, behaviour) and ethics programs for internal consistency and external comparison with other cultural documents such as mission statements.
  3. Violations — Examine any past misdeeds to see how they were investigated. Was moral repair undertaken?
  4. Climate — Talk with group members about their perception of the moral climate.
  5. Compare — Past audits should be used to provide a perspective on the latest performance.

For a more detailed discussion see ethics-audits.

Compliance and risk analysis have no place in ethics assessments.