Setting up their own ethics committee is a step forward for tech companies, as they are the clear winners of digital acceleration.

Setting Up Their Own Ethics Committee Is A Step Forward For Tech Companies, As They Are The Clear Winners Of Digital Acceleration.
The tech industry has often touted the positive impact of technology on society but has been less willing to acknowledge the potential negative effects. This should change, as companies should feel a responsibility to balance any negative impacts caused by their products or services. It is not enough to simply wait for tech giants or political leaders to set guidelines, companies should take proactive steps to address these issues, such as establishing an ethics committee. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it can also improve the perception of the company among future employees.

How to set up an Ethics Committee​

In the tech industry, they are relatively new and are mainly used to keep artificial intelligence in check. However, the concept can be applied more widely to address a range of ethical issues, such as requests to develop apps that perpetuate unhealthy habits, consulting on projects that are not environmentally friendly or working with companies with questionable business models.
For instance, in 2021, Google’s cloud unit abandoned a client’s proposal to utilize AI in determining loan approval, IBM rejected a plan for advanced facial recognition technology, and Microsoft placed strict limitations on the use of voice imitation in their software. These ethical dilemmas in AI are not just limited to science fiction, but the implementation of an internal ethics committee, as a guiding principle for decision-making, can be applied universally among various companies in the digital industry.
Having an internal ethics committee can be a great way to ensure that all decisions are made based on the company’s moral principles and not just profits.
As a CEO, it is important to consider the potential ethical implications of business decisions and to set a positive example for employees to follow.

Tips to run an ethics committee

An ethics committee is a group of people within a company responsible for addressing any ethical concerns related to the company’s actions. It is a cross-team initiative that can be made up of as little as five people. Ethics committees are not new and are commonly used in other industries to set guidelines for employee integrity.

It also carries the weight of impartiality, as the members could represent various interests from within the organization. The size is up to you – five people will do fine, but for better results, you should aim for fifteen teammates, like Google’s AI ethical team.

Effectively implementing ethics committees can greatly benefit a company, as long as they are structured correctly. It is important to establish a clear scope of responsibilities and authority for the committee and its members, including,

  • Handling day-to-day ethical concerns
  • Providing consulting and recommendations
  • Identifying global ethical challenges
  • Company’s role in addressing them

Additionally, creating a safe environment where committee members feel comfortable raising concerns without fear of personal repercussions is crucial. The committee should be understood as an advisor to the decision-making body and not be responsible for making decisions.

Setting clear boundaries and policies, such as excluding certain industries or projects, can also be helpful in navigating contentious ethical discussions.

It is important to also consider less obvious ethical issues, such as those related to sustainable development, and challenge industries, business models, and products that contribute to climate change.

In summary, employees are becoming increasingly conscious of the impact of the companies they work for and are more likely to seek out ethical companies to work for. As a result, companies should strive to align their values with their employees to attract and retain top talent. Furthermore, prioritizing ethics can also benefit a company in the long run.