Ethics in the C-suite

A quote by Sallie Krawcheck made its rounds in meme form on Linkedin this week. It says … “If it comes down to your ethics vs. a job, choose ethics. You can always find another job.” Such truth … especially for Chief Financial Officers.

On a personal note …

Violating your ethics or values will eventually catch up with you … and whether it eats away at you until you are miserable on the job and your health is in jeopardy – or – you begin to blur the lines of what is ethical and what is not … neither of those endings are ideal. The blight of a poor ethical decision can stain the outcome of a future job search.

Always keep your marketing documents up-to-date and understand and act on the premise that you really are always in job (opportunity) search mode. Those two career management strategies can go a long way to ensure that should you ever be asked to violate your ethics and won’t / can’t, you are in a much stronger position to find another opportunity much more quickly.

From a corporate perspective …

The buck often stops with the CFO when ethical violations hit the press. And that … can have a huge negative impact on your ability to find a new opportunity even if you exercise the above two strategies.

May you never be faced with such a situation!


Copyright CFO-Coach 2017


Cindy Kraft is the CFO-Coach and America’s leading Career & Personal Brand Strategist for Corporate Finance Executives helping clients understand their marketability, articulate their value, and position themselves as the clear and compelling choice. She is a Certified Reach Personal Brand Strategist, Certified Reach Online Identity Strategist, Certified Career Management Coach, Credentialed Career Master, Certified Professional Resume Writer, and Job & Career Transition Coach. Cindy can be reached via email, by phone 813-727-3037, or through her website at

Ethics and Executives

Perhaps because integrity and honesty are high values for me, I was intrigued by the 2009 National Business Ethics Survey: Ethics in the Recession. Because of my personal branding work, this statement encouraged me to keep reading. 

“Transparency and accountability, intertwined, signal the trustworthiness of an institution and its leaders. When stakeholders are given information, governance improves.”

Evidence of transparency inside an organization is reflected by leaders who … 

–provide employees access to information that is relevant to the strategic direction and performance of the company;

–keep their promises and commitments;

–make decisions more openly;

–accept responsibility for wrongdoing; and

–reward performance that supports a transparent way of doing business.

When there are chinks in the leadership armor … inauthenticity around who you want people to believe you are and who you actually are … trust is quickly eroded.

There was an interesting correlation between employees who feel their workplace was open and informative (71%) and how they felt about senior executive compensation … 62% said compensation was appropriate, a 4% increase over 2007.

The survey went on to suggest that if senior leadership did not make corporate culture a priority, it risked long-term business challenges, with not having an ethical culture the single biggest factor for determining the amount of future misconduct. 

“Poor decisions made by even a small number of employees can substantially damage not only a business, but the industry in which it operates.” The data suggests that when the economy rights itself and business challenges ease, misconduct is likely to rise without a strong ethical culture in place. To overlook this, is to put your company at risk.  

As CFOs and strategic finance leaders, how and where can you more positively impact ethics within the culture of your organization and your immediate team? What you do and how it makes a difference are great stories for your career and your resume. Those actions may even impact your future compensation.