Models and inspiration

for responsible digital leadership

International financial sector initiative on corporate digital responsibility


Starting point for a canvas v0.1

Data ethics is not a a pure compliance mechanism. It is important to ensure that ethical thinking is actually integrated and embedded in the organization and in the culture and DNA of the organization.

A toolbox should include concrete roadmaps or process descriptions for teams and others developing or using data and AI as well as the overall governance frameworks and elements on how to promote a responsive culture – and how to maintain innovation and agility.

Some of the relevant considerations relate to these areas or priorities:


Compliance: ethics, legal and risk

  1. A legal test. Do you understand and are you compliant with all relevant legal requirements, GDPR and other general or specific regulations?
  2. An ethics tests. How does this project relate to and comply with ethical values, including those of your organization?
  3. Risk assessment. How might this project be corrupted or go wrong? What are the risks? Which strategies to control could be developed (signals and trends)?

Data Management and data ecosystem

  1. Data Management process, systems and people. How to integrate and manage in over-all data ecology, policies and processes.
    Includes issues such as access management and especially screening, auditing and monitoring for bias. Human in loop. Needs relevance for actual business areas and domains
  2. Cyber security. Are you providing the necessary level of security to store and manage data throughout your systems? (Cyber by design)


  1. Social/societal Impact. What is the impact:
        1. Internally in the organization. Jobs need for retraining etc.
        2. Externally / societal impact.
  2. Global Impact – SDG’s. How will this improve the situation in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (as an obvious tracking tool). Economic Impact, Innovation, Impact ?


  1. Partners and sub suppliers. Active management
  2. Competences. Do you have the necessary skills & competences to develop and manage? right organizational practices?
  3. Communication. Internally: comm. of norms, standards and obligations.
    Externally: external sensitivities, risks effectively and understandably.
  4. Acceptance. How ensure acceptance from users? How downstream for ulterior or different use?
  5. Exit. Consider proper termination and exit from the project and product. What will happen to data when the project is terminated or ended?


Ethical question frame

Discussing and integrating ethics can be challenging. Questions often seem to be answered by new questions and it is rare that a clear path appears immediately. The nature of philosophy differs from the drive of engineering or business to find clear or rational answers and solutions.

Models such as the one below on ethical decision making, may serve as useful tools and guides for the evaluation of ethical dilemmas based on considerations relating to the three main ethical domains relating to duty ethics[i] (is it right?) consequential ethics[ii] (is it good?) and virtue ethics[iii] (is it virtuous and balanced?).

1. Background

  • What is the problem? What is at stake?
  • Which values in play?
  • What is the dilemma?

2. Duty

  • Which organizational obligations govern? Compliance?
  • How would I like the actions to be generally valid in the organization?
  • Which stakeholders merit special considerations?
  • Duty/Individual

3. Consequence

  • What is the aim and effect of the decision about to make?
  • For whom will this create greater value ?
  • Positive/negative consequences?
  • Effect/Organization

4. Virtue/ideal

  • What is at stake and which considerations are not given weight?
  • Who could be hurt or are vulnerable?
  • How to best balance considerations?
  • Right, honest, virtuous
  • Phronesis – good judgement

5. Decision

  • What is the overall right and balanced decision
  • How to implement
  • How to communicate
  • What did you learn about your expectations and values?

Learning and organizational development

Active and engaging leadership showing the way as anchor and inspiration as well as a strong organizational participation and involvement is necessary. Learning and development activities should focus on organizations, teams, individuals and leadership.

It is necessary to ensure common ground and understanding about the ethical values and principles adhered to by the organization.  To ensure this, strategic goals should be defined to integrate and embed ethical thinking and insert or implement effectively into the organization, culture and operations.

Robust infrastructure and architecture to manage data ensuring privacy, integrity, access and controls across the organization is important.  So is a robust and strong Governance Framework embracing and embedding openness, transparency and ethical principles supported by a strong leadership commitment and clear and relevant KPI’s.

Organizational development, learning and training are of key importance. Not least in order to:

  • Learn, develop and maintain necessary skills
  • Foster, develop and nurture organizational awareness, and
  • Define, develop and embed the ethical values relevant for the specific organization

Active and engaging leadership showing the way as anchor and inspiration as well as a strong organizational participation and involvement is necessary.  Learning and continuous development activities should focus on organizations, teams, individuals and leadership.  Innitiatives such as the Tech-Pledge are relevant.


Define, Drive and Inspire


Discuss and engage at a cultural level in the organization in order to define ethical values. Discuss and integrate. Values “talked and lived” as any value set to be internalized to ensure acceptance and understanding.


Roadmap, basis and process to ensure integration and operation


Development of skills, awareness, and knowledge.
Promoting the individual responsibility – Oath of Engineers?