My take on chief ethics officers — Cennydd Bowles

Cennydd expands on something he discussed in his (excellent) book, Future Ethics: why hiring a chief ethics officer may not be a particularly effective approach.

A chief ethics officer would be too distanced from product and design orgs, where most ethical decisions are made; their duties would come into conflict with those of the CFO, who is already on the hook for financial ethics; and the seniority of the role would mean this person would be seen as an ethical arbiter, an oracle who passes ethical judgment. This is IMO a failure state for ethics. Loading ethical responsibility onto a sole enlightened exec doesn’t scale, and it reduces the chance of genuine ethical discourse within companies by individualising the problem.