The purpose of this paper is to discuss the merits of self‐regulation and the art of embedding it within an organisation, not as a secondary activity but as a core and fundamental business skill that ensures the survival of a business entity in the long term.
The objective is achieved by considering compliance leadership as a strategy within a modern company. If the highest layer of stewardship of the firm (directors) explicitly accepts a conventional definition of business ethics (the law, best practice, a set of values in a specific hierarchy), then the author can measure this agreement and benchmark it against the highest known standards of corporate governance.
Rational shareholders and managers will behave morally and find acceptable categorical imperatives to govern their behaviour. The delivery and preservation of long‐term value demand that firms build capabilities to self‐regulate and co‐shape their environment, particularly if highly regulated. The paper suggests a way to organise the compliance leadership within some well‐known business structures and present the idea that the chief executive officer of a firm who operates in a complex regulatory environment must make compliance a significant part if not the core element of his or her overall strategy.
Some arguments highlighting weaknesses in the Kantian arguments have not been fully discussed. A global initiative that measures the relationship between ethical maturity and share price has not been undertaken in the writing of this paper.
Twenty‐first century management must ensure the health and resilience of their company's culture to successfully manage and overcome the daily ethical questions that arise across all levels and layers of the organisation as a first priority and that whole business models can be built around this mission. Regulators should be accountable for recognising cultural crisis within the firms they regulate in order to balance the reliance on quantitative measurements of success and to navigate the complexity of the largest players in the market.
The paper builds on earlier research by the author that rational norms of behaviour are core business capabilities that will produce industry leaders that can change the risk landscape of the industries wherein these firms operate. This new leadership will be demanded by the rational shareholder and will transform firms into stakeholder firms capable of interacting with their environment and creating and sustaining value over the longest term.
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