An Ethicist, Compliance Officer, and a Lawyer walk into a bar…


Because you’re in the food and beverage industry and that’s where you’re holding interviews for a new director for your board. It seems that the “big three” of ethics, compliance, and legal are all going to have to duke it out. How do you know which one to choose? The answer is (surprise!) it depends. And with everything, there are several factors to weigh.  Obvious questions like, what is the composition of the board, who are you replacing, and what type of personality are you looking for are important, but the philosophical question of whom to choose reigns bigger. Each profession has its own unique qualities:


  • Promote ethical conduct throughout your organization
  • Advises your company to do what’s right, regardless of what the law says
  • Operates on the moral high ground

Compliance Officer

  • Advises the organization on how to stay out of trouble
  • Concerned with what you are legally required to do, not what you “should” do
  • Probably experienced in bringing bad news to the boss


  • Advises how to protect yourself if/when you get into trouble
  • Gives legal advice
  • May have a conflict of interest with compliance
  • Not concerned with ethics from a professional standpoint

SCCE’s Advisory Board Co-Chair, Dan Roach, weighs in here:

So which will you choose?


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