Undeniably, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for digital transformation across all sectors. However, this adoption of digital solutions and innovation should not come at the expense of ethical considerations. Stakeholders today are increasingly intolerant of companies that ignore or blur ethical lines.

The reality is that leaders face a new learning curve. They need to know how to engage in digital transformation that factors in ethics by design. Ideally, employees should also act ethically because it is in alignment with their personal values. More importantly, they should understand the risks that an ethical lapse presents.

Ethical concerns don’t get a “town hall” treatment because of the unwillingness to let go of conventional thinking when it comes to business hierarchies. So what are the available solutions then?

There are three options that have proven to be effective:

  1. Make ethics one of the organisation’s core values
  2. Embrace transparency
  3. Proactively develop strategies that address ethical violations and challenges

These simple solutions are considered great starting points to solve any ethics issues when it comes to digital transformation and beyond. They allow leaders to take a closer look at the heart of the organisation and make decisions that impact the organisation for many years to come.

Digital Transformation Starting Point

Ethical digital transformation needs a starting point. Fortunately, organisations need not start from scratch. Governance, risk and compliance (GRC) standards can be used to create a structured framework that is closed to interpretation and will provide a robust foundation for identifying and adopting solutions.

Thoughtful application of GRC standards has also been proven to help with risk analysis, progress reports and leadership evaluation. This can be likened to using bowling bumpers—while they won’t guarantee that you roll a strike, they can definitely help keep the ball out of the gutter.

It is possible for companies to not know how to create and implement a GRC-based framework. Fortunately, they can turn to GRC platforms to help get their efforts off to a good start. While getting started with GRC can involve automated and cloud-based solutions, having success with it will require organisation-wide transparency and input.

One important thing you should understand when implementing GRC standards is that it is likely to fail unless the leadership and broader corporate culture fully support its direction. Today’s leaders are not merely concerned with winning the digital race. If anything, digital transformation is more of a marathon than a sprint.

The blowback against brands and individuals who allow technical lapses has been evident. While it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of experiencing something similar, it is reassuring to know that you can manage the risks. The danger comes when you allow digital transformation “tech blinders” to interfere with the big picture.

Organisations that want to mitigate the risks and face the challenges of the digital era ethically should start by having conversations about what inclusivity, transparency and ethics means in and around the organisation. When necessary, they also need to back up the conversations with open-mindedness and action.

It would also be a smart idea to get a GRC certification to help you better guide the organisation in the right direction. While digital trends are shifting faster than ever, there should always be time and space for proper ethical considerations. Failure to address them could derail your progress down the line.