Skip to main content
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Ethical Culture Assessment

The Ethical Culture Assessment offers corporate boards a unique opportunity to peer into the health of their company’s culture.

All companies have a corporate culture, but most accept the one they have as a given. The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics’ Ethical Culture Assessment provides companies with information to assess the alignment between the current ethical culture and their espoused values. As a tool of leadership and governance it provides a meaningful way for boards and executive management teams to understand culture and set and clarify expectations.

The purpose of the Ethical Culture Assessment is to provide boards of large companies with objective data concerning the degree to which their organizations have ethical cultures, and to identify needed steps to correct any shortcomings identified. The source of data is an organizational diagnostic designed to identify the specific cultural strengths and weaknesses that may lead to, or deter, ethical misbehavior.

Working with senior management, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics identifies strengths and weaknesses pertaining to culture, and identifies the necessary steps to address them.

Data is collected through one-on-one interviews and small group focus sessions leveraging collaborative software, in both quantitative and qualitative form. Markkula Center ethicists then analyze the data, interpret the findings, and offer insights to the Board on how they can meet their legal duty to maintain the ethical culture of their respective companies.

  • Gives board confidence in their ability to monitor and foster ethical performance
  • Customized for each company
  • Starts with objective collection of data
  • Allows for in-depth probing to identify sources of problems and next steps
  • Requires relatively little board and employee time

Markkula Center senior ethicists meet with the board in a three-hour session to review the findings from the diagnostic, discuss the implications for the board and management, and offer suggestions for actions on the part of the board.

The Board will receive a comprehensive report with data visualization and key findings, the anonymous data collected in the focus sessions, and guidance offered in the report and three-hour session from Markkula Center ethicists. 


Business Ethics Stories
  • El Salvador's passage of The Bitcoin Law has raised questions about the ethical nature of implementing a cryptocurrency as legal tender. Less than 5% of all Chivo ATMs are located within communities living in formerly guerrilla-controlled territories, harkening to a substantial lack of support by the Salvadoran government and a failure to achieve all three of The Bitcoin Law’s goals.

  • By discharging existing government departments and agencies to oversee AI and developing new tools and organizations to aid in that effort, the Biden administration is addressing the question of whether AI regulation will be distributed among a number of entities, or concentrated in a single, new agency.

  • Despite the concerns that religious participation is fading, enough people still consider it vital to their life. In the face of this new moment, what are key ethical guideposts for executives to keep in mind?