LRN Perspectives

Champion of Ethical Culture: Ashlee Foltz on Integrating Ethics Into the Business and Advancing Integrity Throughout the Organization

September 10, 2019 LRN Corporation

"I don’t believe in a world where we have to choose between profits and people.”

 – Ashlee Foltz

On this episode of the Principled podcast, host Marsha Ershaghi Hames interviews the founder of ACF Consulting Solutions and the former Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer of Cintas Corporation, Ashlee Foltz. Ashlee describes her own journey into the Ethics and Compliance field, her passion for business ethics, and how best to integrate the function into organizations. During the episode, trends in business ethics and drivers for socially responsible companies are discussed, as well as how to advance integrity as part of the business mandate. Ashlee explains how the industry is moving away from a top-down approach based on punishment, and toward a bottom-up approach, where the Ethics and Compliance Program is seen as a competitive advantage and a source of pride.


  • [1:09] How did you find your way to Ethics and Compliance work?
  • [1:22] In her junior year of college, Ashlee completed an externship at the European Court of Human Rights, where she was transfixed with the idea of being a change agent through policy and the law. Ashlee then went to law school and always maintained a touchpoint to social justice, eventually landing at Cintas Corporation in a formal Ethics and Compliance position.
  • [3:27] Coming from an in-house position and evolving into a private practice, what drove you in that direction?
  • [3:45] Ashlee found that her passion was truly in the philosophical area of ethics and focusing on the broader issues, rather than the transactional compliance functions. She was also presented with the opportunity to work as the Ethicist in Residence for the Williams College of Business at Xavier University, where she could again focus on business ethics.
  • [4:45] How do you view the opportunity to integrate business ethics into organizations?
  • [5:14] Industry has really shifted from looking at ethics and compliance through a criminal law lens to now using it in a more holistic manner, where business decisions are weighed based on the ethical implications. Business leaders are beginning to understand the competitive advantage of an Ethics and Compliance Leader.
  • [7:27] What are the future trends we can expect to see in business ethics?
  • [7:32] Ashlee is fascinated and impressed with the next generation of benefit enterprises, which value employees, the environment, and the community, while at the same time being financially successful. As Millennials rise through the ranks, there will be a shift from short-term benefits for shareholders to long-term benefit for all. The other shift is already here, in terms of artificial intelligence and the ethical implications associated with data and privacy.
  • [10:11] What is the driver for people wanting to work in a more inclusive and socially responsible workplace?
  • [10:57] Today, people can acquire a lot more information about a company online, including its culture and social mission, which influence how people make job selections.
  • [12:00] How much do you see the Ethics and Compliance Professional being responsible for advancing integrity as part of the business mandate?
  • [12:09] It is every employee’s job to advance integrity within an organization, but for Ethics and Compliance Professionals, it starts with self-awareness of your own predispositions, which will allow you to align your thinking to the truth of a situation.
  • [14:53] How can Ethics and Compliance Leaders balance scaling a program, yet keeping it locally and contextually relevant?
  • [15:04] Make sure that truth is not hidden or ignored, and that decisions are made on correct data, not misleading data. Act as a truthbearer, providing transparency and quality information, which is the biggest service you can give to your organization to move integrity forward.

    Don’t miss our next episode! Be sure to subscribe to Principled on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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