Create a culture of integrity

The Last Word


Doug Hagerman
Senior vice president, general counsel and secretary, Rockwell Automation Inc.
1201 S. Second St., Milwaukee
Industry: Manufacturing technology
Employees: 22,500


Rockwell Automation has been named one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” six times by the Ethisphere Institute. Senior vice president, general counsel and secretary Doug Hagerman reflects on the value of authentic conversations about ethics in the workplace.

“When ethics and integrity become part of your culture, they are a differentiator and a competitive advantage. Authentic conversations about ethics leave no room for doubt that the company and its leaders are serious about doing what is right. To do this, make it personal, make it relevant, and make it a team sport. Your organization will be well on its way to creating a culture of integrity.

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“By making it personal, you make the whole conversation more interesting and people engage. I believe that all leadership is personal and leaders deliver powerful stories. So we encourage our managers to talk about ethics on their own terms, in their own words, with no corporate scripts.

“The best conversations focus on difficult situations managers have faced in their business careers. They describe a dilemma, how they dealt with it including their choices, and the outcome.

“Start with relevant stories about actual business situations that your company or competitors have faced. Make those conversations specific to a particular function, whether finance, production or sales.

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“Involve everyone. Obviously tone at the top is critical, but it can be undermined without tone in the middle. When ethics is a team sport you’re more likely to send a clear message that ethics and integrity are part of your core. If every major interaction that employees have with leaders includes a reference to ethics, eventually that becomes expected. Ethics becomes who and what we are.”

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