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Ethical leadership discussed at Leaders Integrity Forum

Anne Gilbert

TINZ Public Sector Project Manager

Culture and Conduct: Creating a culture of integrity and code of ethics, was the theme of the June 2019 Public Sector Leaders Integrity Forum. This was chaired by Debbie Francis who recently completed an independent external review of the workplace conduct of Parliament. She noted in her introduction that changing an established organisational culture is more powerful than strategy and more difficult to change.

Rhys Jones, Chief Executive of Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) spoke exactly on this point.  He took on the challenge of amalgamating 40 urban and rural fire services to create one entity, and changing organisational culture to generate respect, and inclusion.  A review had found “that bullying and harassment is a feature of the FENZ workplace at all levels and across all regions.”  Rhys and his team have started and are still on the journey towards culture-change with the question, how do we create a respectful environment, not just within but looking out?

Stephen Walker, Executive Director of Audit NZ and the 2019 President of the Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) continued the theme discussing what it means to behave with integrity and be ethical in our everyday and professional lives. Ethical leadership is vital to build and maintain public trust and confidence and the fastest way to damage that trust is dishonest or unethical behaviour. Stephen also suggested the audience consider the possible unintended consequences of the pressures on staff that might lead them to compromise their own ethical standards.

For more on this discussion, view the OAG blog

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