We wrote this book addressing “corporate conduct” based on our experiences working in corporations funded by shareholders. However, the framework for managing corporate conduct could just as well be described as managing “organisational conduct” and applied in organisations funded by donors (NGOs) or by taxpayers (counties, municipalities, governments) as well as within organisations such as the UN. The context and content will be as unique as that of any company, and the compliance methodology is the same. as is the manner in which you build and strengthen the culture in the organisation.

So, we believe the costume is the same but, of course, the size must be different, depending on the relevant factors in each specific company and organisation.

The costume is designed for moving “From Words to Action and From Action to Change”. Our costume, the framework, for managing corporate conduct is based on the five fundamental Cs: Context, Content, Compliance, Conduct, and Culture.

Context and Content are words.

Compliance relates to activities that translate words into action.

Conduct and Culture facilitate lasting change.

All of the elements, Context, Content, Compliance, Conduct and Culture, are required to truly address and manage corporate conduct. It takes two seconds to say ‘zero tolerance against corruption’, and it is relatively easy to use words in annual reports and sustainability reports or in public speeches, to describe how responsible and sustainable the company aspires to be. Corporate scandals may reveal that the reality is something different and that the words have not been put into action. Effective compliance work is fundamental to living up to the words and generating action throughout the entire company.

Compliance brings transparency, makes difficult dilemmas visible and generates friction.

The friction and dilemmas require decisions and actions, a conduct. Conduct demonstrated in the daily decisions and actions will inevitably generate a culture. Words do not create culture, action does.

In a perfect world, a company would be able to start from understanding its context and then work onwards with content and compliance, conduct and culture. We realise that hardly any company starts with this work from a blank paper, and one has to adapt to what already exists. This framework provides a methodology of elements, which should ultimately all be in place for managing corporate conduct and our view on what to expect during the implementation and continued work. It will help you plan the work, ensure effectiveness, identify where there is room for improvement and perhaps to understand why the work may feel overwhelming at times. Struggles and frictions are natural part of change, and we encourage embracing these and using them as fuel for change. Based on our experience, the struggles and frictions are actually evidence of the programme having an impact and that the journey towards change has started. All the hard work will pay off in a more responsible corporate conduct and stronger culture of business ethics.