Companies have finally come to realize that institutional justice and fairness are perhaps the most basic tenet of any successful workplace. If employees believe they will be treated fairly, it will engender a level of trust that can work to not simply motivate employees but lead to a more successful workplace and, at the end of the day, a more profitable company. This encompasses the entire lifecycle of the employment relationship, from hiring through separation. It works in areas as seeming disparate as compensation and incentives, discipline, promotion and internal reporting.

The issue of Institutional Justice is most clearly seen in the area of discipline. This can be in the overall application of a compliance program to all employees, Board members and senior managers. One of the areas which Human Resources can operationalize your compliance program is to ensure that discipline is handed out appropriately and consistently across an organization and to reward those employees who integrate such ethical and compliant behavior into their individual work practices. In addition to providing a financial incentive for ethical behavior, it also provides a sense of institutional justice. Institutional justice comes from procedural fairness and is one area that will bring credibility to your compliance program

Three key takeaways:

  1. The DOJ and SEC have long called for appropriate and consistent application of both incentives and discipline.
  2. The Fair Process Doctrine will help set institutional justice as the norm in your organization.
  3. Inconsistent application of discipline will destroy your compliance program credibility.