Is the targeting of ethics training too narrow? I certainly think so.
Ethics and values training is usually targeted at managers, executives, and sometimes board members. There is no doubt that these groups need ethics training that is comprehensive, well implemented, and routinely updated. However, remember that the integrity of organizations is judged on the basis of everyone in it, not just the managers, executives, and board.
How much are front-line staff and support staff trained to know about how to bring the values of their organization to life through their actions? (For starters, how often are they even fully aware of what those values are?)
Organizations can’t afford to ignore the importance of assuring that front-line staff are fully on board as far as ethics and values. Remember, the inappropriate comments or actions of the person answering the phone can be just as damaging to a business’ reputation as any other employee. Not only that, but an ‘actionable’ ethics lapse (including many illegal actions, whether intentional or not) on their part can ultimately be just as costly as would be the case if the lapse was by a manager, executive, or board member.
Organizations’ ethics and values need to be brought to life by every action at every level of the organization. So why would you limit your training on those ethics and values to just certain members of the organization? At best that seems penny-wise but, more likely, is outright dangerous.