We probably need two types of digital ethics committees. One at a strategic organisational level and one more at the operations level. Depending on the size of your organisation, this could be global and national or could be senior management and operations.
I’ve written before about some of the ethics questions for a more operational level. Therefore, I won’t repeat them, here are a few thoughts on the role or function of a strategic Ethics Committee.
- Create space for robust and diverse discussions on what is appropriate and responsible technology use. At least 50% of the time should be spent in discussion and debate. This is the space where different insights, experiences, and expertise get drawn out.
- Create and socialise organisational position papers on specific types and uses of technology. Here is where the discussions are shared out. These are assertions, opinions to provoke others to comment. In many ways, these should be seen as an invitation to others to join the discussion.
- Create and disseminate organisational wide policy and guidance on appropriate and responsible technology use. This is where everything learned in 1 & 2 is brought together and decisions are made. Here it is crucial to remember, policies can change in the future, they should change in the future. But they give structure to the organisation to move forward now. And policies with clear guidance that frontline staff can understand are useless, so don’t make that mistake.
- Ensure organisational digital ethics capacity exists at all levels of our organisation and within the communities we seek to serve. There is no point in having policies and guidance if there is no capacity to implement them. Policy and capacity must go hand in hand.
- Review day-to-day practices regularly to ensure purpose is being achieved. And tweak as needed.
One of the things these posts remind me constantly about is the need for facilitation. Facilitation might just be the most overlooked essential skill in the world today.