The insurance industry is based on trust and reliable relationships. Having a clear and intuitive framework for making ethical decisions is at the heart of making that happen, according to Espen Skancke.
‘Insurance is a trust-based business. We rely on customers, authorities, investors and other partners having confidence in what we do, and therefore it’s essential that we have a strong ethical backbone underpinning all parts of our business’, says Espen Skancke, compliance officer at If.
As a supervisor of a newly created ethics course at If, Espen Skancke has a pivotal role in highlighting the importance of ethical issues and in providing guidelines on how to deal with them. With the new initiative, he hopes to complement the existing ethics policies with an intuitive and generally applicable framework aimed at helping employees tackle ethical questions, challenges and dilemmas as they occur in their everyday practice.
According to Espen, ethics policies and clear conduct rules are very important to a big company like If, but they aren’t always practical for employees to consult when looking for guidance in blurry borderline cases, where different rules can sometimes contradict each other.
‘We cannot create rules that solve every case. There are probably as many ethical dilemmas as there are functions within If. Rather than giving answers to all possible problems, we want to provide a systematic way of thinking about these issues – a simple method and tool for evaluating problems in an informed way’, says Espen Skancke.
This becomes even more pertinent, he adds, as norms of acceptable business behavior seem to be changing more quickly than ever before.
‘Our interpretation of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable is changing rapidly. We cannot assume that actions that were acceptable yesterday will continue to be so tomorrow. This also highlights the importance of simple and comprehensible tools that can guide us through difficult situations’, says Espen Skancke.
The new ethics course will be held in the form of training sessions, consisting of a short presentation of the chosen evaluation method developed together with Norwegian researchers, paired with workshops where the participants are confronted with imagined business dilemmas and can apply their newly acquired skills in practice. The aim is that all employees in the Nordic and Baltic countries will take the course over the coming years.