Stephan Bezuidenhout and Shane Burton established Discovery’s Ethics Office during 2014. As seasoned Discovery employees, they had experience in other disciplines. However, the Ethics discipline was new to them.
By the end of 2015, they had both completed the Ethics Institute’s Certification Program. However, as brand new practitioners, they realized they lacked experiential knowledge.
They found it was fairly easy to obtain information on theory. There are many, many good books and academic texts on business ethics. This really wasn’t the issue.
Their challenge was more practical. Discovery is a large, ethnically diverse organization. The company already had a well-entrenched, value-based corporate culture. Shane and Stephan wanted to build upon it and enhance it. But they wanted to do it in an effective and considered way. They realized they could benefit enormously from talking to other, (more experienced), Ethics Officers.
They knew there were experienced and successful practitioners “out there”. But as they began their process of reaching out to them, they discovered that (generally) Ethics Officers weren’t talking to each other much. Clearly, they weren’t benefiting from the tremendously important knowledge that comes from shared experiences and professional comradeship.
So, Stephan and Shane decided to get the Ethics Officers talking. They decided to create a forum in which practitioners could share their knowledge and their day-to-day practical experiences. A place for discourse and learning. Where ideas could meet, (and even collide), and where strong and lasting professional friendships could form.
This is the spirit in which Shane and Stephan conceived the EPA - their wish was for camaraderie amongst practitioners. They hoped that Ethics Officers would find their voice. That they would use it to speak bravely as a force for social good, and as fierce opponents of corruption.
That’s why it began.