The 2024 European Business Ethics Forum (EBEF) takes place in Paris, February 7-9, and it’s a career highlight this year for me to have been asked to co-present a session.
Now in its 21st year, EBEF is organized jointly by Cercle d’Éthiques des Affaires (CEA), the U.S.-based Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI), and the U.K.-based Institute of Business Ethics (IBE).
I’m traveling to Paris this week for #EBEF24 to embrace this opportunity to reach an important audience and to support ECI’s recent launch of its Business Integrity Library, which I’m proud to sponsor as a platform for shared best-practice.
For much of my career – particularly the past two decades – I have valued opportunities to speak on topics tied to #PRethics on innumerable occasions… not only across the U.S., but also in more recent years in international locales such as Vienna, Dubai, and Warsaw.
Often, these audiences have been composed almost entirely of fellow public relations industry colleagues and PR agency leaders.
Don’t get me wrong… I embrace speaking to any PR industry audience.
For decades, we who work in public relations have struggled with those outside our industry (mis)understanding precisely what it is we do.
From an ethics standpoint, many leaders external to PR also often misunderstand what those working within a principled PR framework don’t do on ethical grounds (and shouldn’t be asked or ordered to do in the name of “PR” by organizational leadership… like crafting untruthful or misleading public messages that fail to align with corporate policies or behaviors, as just one example).
The only way to bridge those divides is for those of us in PR who embrace communications integrity to speak to, persuade, and build relationships more directly with those outside our profession.
Holding ethics talks where PR folks only speak with and advocate to other PR folks is probably not the best way to change boardroom and c-suite awareness levels and mindsets in the manner we need, in order to effect positive change.
In the U.S. South, we call it “preaching to the choir.”
That’s what we do in PR leadership, when we focus our speaking-engagement and other advocacy efforts only on those who do what we do for a living and who, by and large, already “get it,” relative to understanding why ethics in PR are so important.
- Ethics & Compliance (E&C) practitioners
- Corporate responsibility or sustainability professionals
- Purpose implementation managers
- Culture leads
- Integrity officers
- Speak Up and Investigation professionals
- ESG professionals
- HR managers
- Internal auditors or audit managers/officers
- Legal team
- Risk managers
- Data Protection professionals
- Academics in business ethics or related fields
- Policymakers and researchers
- Corporate executives and leaders
I deeply appreciate the opportunity to help share important new resources at EBEF, like ECI’s Business Integrity Library and the urgent rationales for bridging “Say-Do” divides in how organizations communicate versus how they behave via policy and tactical decisions.
Stay tuned for more updates.
Mary Beth West, APR, FPRCA, is a 30-year PR industry veteran and a member of the Ethics & Compliance Initiative. Download her 2023 white paper, “The State of Ethics Codes in the Public Relations Industry: A Global Analysis,” with original research of 24 PR industry association ethics codes worldwide, commissioned through the Institute of Business Ethics.