Fjord Trends 2018 predicts organizations must prepare themselves to meet the evolving ethical employee and customer expectations in the year ahead

In this final post examining the 2018 Fjord Trends report and how it can guide financial services (FS) firms in shaping a future workforce, let’s examine the group’s final trend, “The Ethics Economy.”

Fjord quotes Apple CEO Tim Cook on ethics: “Companies are nothing more than a collection of people. So, by extension, all companies should have values,” he says. “I think one of your responsibilities is to decide what the values of your company are, and lead accordingly.”

According to Fjord, Cook’s sentiment highlights the new environment in which organizations now find themselves and how they must prepare to best meet evolving employee and customer expectations in the year ahead.

FS organizations are all too familiar with the growing expectations of younger customers and employees that they should take a stand on values.

My colleague Sarah Kruger has written extensively about millennials and their desire to make a contribution―at work and in society.

“Motivated by social factors over economic factors, they seek a life with meaning and look for the flexibility that allows them to enjoy themselves while being socially responsible. Their eclectic blend of characteristics positions them well to be superior leaders in the future and to help make the world a better place,” she wrote.

Here at Accenture, we are proud of our sustained commitment to ethical practices, which has placed us on Ethisphere’s list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the last 10 years.

We recently published our Code of Business Ethics, which focuses on our six enduring core values that help shape our culture and define our corporate character:

Client Value Creation: Being responsive and relevant;

One Global Network: Leveraging the power of global insight, relationships, collaboration;

Respect for the Individual: Valuing diversity and unique contributions, fostering a trusting, open and inclusive environment;

Best People: Fostering a collborative and mutually supportive environment;

Integrity: Being ethically unyielding and honest and taking responsibility for our actions;

Stewardship: Helping improve communities and the global environment.

More and more FS firms are trying to incorporate similar ethics and pilot programs to attract younger talent to their workforce. We wrote about the efforts of Citibank and Wells Fargo to lure millennials dedicated to values with options ranging from a five-week sabbatical to do microfinance work in Africa to spending a gap year with a non-profit organization of their choice.

However, Fjord argues that this will not be enough: “Taking a stance in 2018 will not–and cannot–be about charity, corporate social responsibility or damage limitation.” It suggests that organizations should:

  • Ethically self-audit: Brainstorm shared values with employees and build on that to find human-centered solutions to social issues.
  • Define your personality and purpose: Stand for something; ethical positions must be made clear throughout the organization.
  • Share ownership of goals: Co-generate ideas with employees at different levels.

FS firms looking to navigate this new territory of active values and ethics will have to pay close attention to the expectations of customers and their workforce. If the 2018 Fjord Trends report makes one thing clear, it is that this year will be a year of listening and fine-tuning for all, including FS organizations.

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