Do companies really need a ‘head of integrity’?
Putting someone in charge of ethics does not absolve chief executives of responsibility, writes Brooke Masters
This week, Volkswagen investors stepped up their criticism of the car maker’s efforts to clean itself up in the wake of the emissions scandal and the recent arrest of the head of its Audi unit. They think the German car maker is moving too slowly and Hiltrud Werner, VW’s head of integrity, told the Financial Times that she agrees. Hold on. Head of integrity? I can see why a company that has just paid $25bn in damages for cheating on emissions tests and seen its prior chief executive charged with a criminal cover-up might want a little more integrity. But when did that become a board-level job? Does Ms Werner’s existence mean the rest of the leadership is absolved from having to think about ethics? The corporate world is dotted with arcane titles. A quick search of LinkedIn turns up "chief catalyst", "growth hacker" and "chief happiness officer". But integrity and ethics are especially hot these days. If you look on the recruiting site Glassdoor for chief integrity officer jobs, it r...