Championing Ethics Even When Out of Sight

By Eleanor Hunt

Magdalena Gonzalez-Galvan never anticipated her career would lead into the ethics office for multinational oil and gas company BP. But with a solid education starting at Baylor and strong work principles, it was a natural transition for her.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in International Business and Entrepreneurship from Baylor in 2008, she was hired by Lockheed Martin. In this role, she advised NASA on how to comply with government regulations for exporting equipment to launch sites abroad. The equipment was ultimately destined for the International Space Station. Simultaneously, she worked toward her MBA in global business management at the University of Houston.

In 2013, Gonzalez-Galvan joined BP’s International Trade Regulations team within the Ethics and Compliance (E&C) function to assist BP units with navigating complex export controls, trade sanctions and anti-boycott regulations.

Currently, she is the liaison to BP’s ethics monitor and government agreements analyst. In this position, Gonzalez-Galvan fosters a positive working relationship between BP and its government-appointed ethics monitor, who is overseeing BP’s ethics and compliance progress following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident. She ensures the ethics monitor stays informed about BP’s E&C program through site visits, meetings with select employees and reviewing processes and documents.

“At BP, we are committed to doing the right thing. In Ethics & Compliance we collaborate with our businesses to integrate our values and continually work to advance BP’s ethical culture by developing, promoting and continually improving the E&C program,” Gonzalez-Galvan says.

‘Nothing puts us at risk more than failure to do what is right’

She believes adherence to internal policies and external regulations is the foundation for ethics at work. Additionally, ethics transcend written requirements and reflect what one should do, even when no one is watching.

“Ethics rest with the individual, which is why it is so important for corporations to set a clear culture and to indoctrinate employees into the company culture and code of conduct. A strong, ethical culture gives employees the courage to speak up when something doesn’t seem right. Nothing is more important to BP than making sure we do what is right, and nothing puts us at risk more than failure to do so,” she says.

The challenge for ethics champions like Gonzalez-Galvan is to ensure ethical standards are represented across all parts of the business. This can be especially challenging in a large corporation spanning numerous countries and impacting tens of thousands employees.

Reflecting on ethics in her Baylor courses, Gonzalez-Galvan recalls the topic being integrated into lectures, projects and reading assignments. She believes this is the optimal approach to teach ethics in the workplace, because personal and corporate ethics influence how one approaches daily decisions.

“You carry your ethics in all you do. It drives your actions and is truly fundamental to any work environment. I would encourage Baylor alumni and future graduates to seek out ethics and compliance roles because they are great learning experiences and help develop strong leadership capabilities,” she concludes.

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Baylor Business Review, Spring 2018

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