A business without ethics is a business at risk. Bettye Hill not only understands this, but also inspires in others that ethics aren’t buzzwords in the corporate world. Rather, they are a necessary means of protecting and guiding a company’s goals.
As vice president, chief ethics and compliance officer at Oshkosh Corporation, she recognizes that the company’s ethical culture both safeguards it and helps it grow.
All About People
Hill, alongside a talented global ethics and compliance team, ensures employees and business partners of the Oshkosh Corporation have the tools and information needed to make decisions consistent with their code of conduct. It’s a concept known as the Oshkosh Way.
Hill and her team understand it is also important to create a system that monitors and audits expectations, and she wants to make it easy for employees to “do the right thing.”
In order to accomplish their goals, the Oshkosh global ethics and compliance group is committed to finding ways to improve the program. Everyone on the team is actively involved in the ethics and compliance profession to stay abreast of changes in regulations and best practices.
“For me, my driver is about people,” Hill says. “People are at the center of everything we do around ethics and compliance. It’s people who make the decisions at the company. You just want to make sure that people have the right tools to make good decisions.”
Business moves quickly, so Hill must ensure these tools are not only available, but also easy for employees to use in order to make ethical choices. “That’s ethics and compliance. It’s all about people,” she explains.
OSHKOSH NAMED A 2017 WORLD’S MOST ETHICAL COMPANY
Oshkosh Corporation was recently recognized by the Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business, as a 2017 World’s Most Ethical Company.
This is the second consecutive year that Oshkosh has been awarded this honor, and the milestone is further highlighted as Oshkosh Corporation celebrated its one hundred-year anniversary in 2017. Oshkosh is one of only 124 companies, representing fifty-two industry sectors in nineteen countries and five continents, named on the list, according to Oshkosh’s website.
Oshkosh Corporation was also the only company selected in the “Trucks and Other Vehicles” category.
Preparing for the Role
Before joining Oshkosh, Hill says it was a combination of management, marketing, regulations, collaboration, and innovation throughout various tenures that prepared her for her current role.
“With the combination of my education and work experience, this position was tailor-made for me,” she says. “I utilize my business, legal, and compliance experience.”
She is also a certified compliance and ethics professional, a member of the Texas Bar Association, and can rely on her advanced degree in business and law. She grew up in a military family and learned that no matter where they lived around the world, everybody has the same objective: to be treated with “dignity and respect.”
“It starts early, wanting to do the right thing, and show integrity,” Hill says.
Hill also credits her mentors that have assisted her throughout her career. “All of that has helped prepare me,” she adds.
Why It Matters
There are countless articles and studies focused on why ethics are a necessary function for any business. And for Hill, ethics and compliance are not an optional department.
“Ethics matter because it is about trust, and that extends itself in everything the company does: employees, customers, business partners, shareholders, and the community. Everyone benefits from a company that is ethical,” Hill says.
Companies with ethics are also better able to attract, hire, and retain top talent. A robust ethics and compliance program also makes it easier to attract business partners and customers. “Businesses want to do business with ethical companies,” Hill says.
Oshkosh Corporation employees also receive annual training on the Oshkosh Way. The global ethics and compliance group regularly communicates the company’s core values and examples of ethical choices.
“Our goal is to provide easy access to the information employees need and when they need it. As a global company, it is important that our training and resources be in multiple languages,” Hill explains.
At Oshkosh, leaders discuss ethics and “doing the right thing,” embedding the practice into everything the company does.
On the Horizon
Looking ahead, Hill says the global ethics and compliance team will continue focusing on their employees’ and business partners’ needs.
“We ask for suggestions on how to continue improving our global ethics and compliance program. The suggestions we receive are part of our blueprint for continuous improvement and innovation. Among these innovations are how to better use technology to ensure individuals can access information in a way that’s up to date and reliable,” Hill says. “We are always looking for ways to do that. The ways in which people want to receive information is changing, including the use of social media. So how we communicate has changed as well.”
Communication isn’t all that’s changed. The way information is processed and used can be different between generations. For example, “millennials tend to want the information they need and no more,” so Hill and her team try to distribute information to them in a way that they will receive it.
All in all, what’s crucial for Hill is people. The Oshkosh Corporation is a “people-first” culture. The global ethics and compliance team want to ensure that everyone has what they need and when they need it in order to make ethical business decisions. “That’s how we make the biggest impact for the company—through our people,” Hill says.
BEHIND THE AWARD
Oshkosh and Bettye Hill have earned a number of awards that demonstrate a company—and career—devoted to service and best business practices.
2016: Oshkosh named as a World’s Most Ethical Company by Ethisphere
2016: Oshkosh awarded NYSE Governance Services: Governance, Risk, and Compliance Leadership Award
2017: Oshkosh earns the BBB Wisconsin Torch Award for Ethics
2015: Short List, Women in Compliance
2017: Short List, Women in Compliance