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Lockheed Martin Putting Words into Action

November 30, 2000
Related Topics: Ethics, Featured Article
The Lockheed Martin Corporation’s ethics and compliance program is widelyregarded as one of the best in the country. This should not be surprising,really. In the mid-1980s, Lockheed stood at the brink of disaster. Alarmed by aseries of ethics scandals, the U.S. government was prepared to debar thevenerable defense contractor, a move that would have effectively preventedLockheed from doing business with its biggest client.

    We have people who have lived through incredibly stressful and difficulttimes because of a lapse of ethical and compliant behavior, says Tracy CarterDougherty, Lockheed Martin’s director of ethics, communications, and training.They have seen assembly lines shut down while auditors came in to find out ifthere was a product substitution on the assembly line, or they’ve seen peoplemarched out the door while a whole facility closed.

    There is no one-size-fits-all approach to implementing a first-rate ethicsprogram, but the Lockheed Martin model is a good place to start. Here are someessential elements:

  • Don’t be condescending. Rather than tell employees that you are going to teach them how to be ethical, empower them to raise questions based on their own understanding of right and wrong.

  • Make ethics training mandatory for every employee, from CEO on down.

  • Design training programs in such a way that they address ethical dilemmas that employees have faced in the past, and use these examples to illustrate how they can deal with analogous situations in the future.

  • Give employees multiple avenues for raising questions and voicing their concerns. At Lockheed Martin, these include toll-free ethics hot lines, a formal ethics office at the corporate level, and a culture that encourages employees to discuss ethical issues with managers and supervisors all the way up the management chain.

  • Give employees the option of voicing their concerns anonymously.

  • When problems are reported, act on them decisively to show employees that the company’s commitment to ethical business practices is taken seriously.

    "One question we always get is, ‘How do you get managementsupport and buy-in for a program of the magnitude of the one Lockheed Martinmaintains?’ says Dougherty. I think intuitive leaders just get it. Are youwilling to risk the reputation of the company, or is it worth putting measuresin place to help your employees do the right thing?"

Workforce, December 2000, Volume 79, Number 12, p.76 SubscribeNow!

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