To assist with regulatory compliance. An ethics officer can work with the company's top executives to ensure compliance with legislation such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. An ethics officer can also develop and implement ethics training programs and then monitor their effectiveness so top management can measure the results.
To improve the company's reputation and public perception. Firms like MCI have created ethics officer positions to rebuild company reputations. Proactively hiring an ethics officer may prevent problems from occurring in the first place.
To provide a way for employees or others to report issues. It's the ethics officer's job to create and implement an infrastructure for reporting and managing misconduct, ethical issues and inquiries. Such systems could include e-mail addresses, anonymous phone and fax numbers, and Web pages.
This was first published in April 2006