As our world has become increasingly data-driven there has also been an increased focus on data ethics. Spanning regulatory compliance, data privacy, fairness, and the potential for algorithmic bias, how companies handle data has the potential to affect customer and partner relationships, corporate reputations, and even the bottom line.
A recent article in ITBusinessEdge explores data ethics in greater detail and also touches on best practices organizations should use to ensure the responsible governance of their data. These include:
Establish Clear Policies and Procedures
It’s imperative that companies create documented policies and procedures for protecting consumer data. These should address what types of information is collected, how long the organization will keep it, who has access to it, and the steps that will be taken should a security breach occur or if there is an unsanctioned release of the information.
Obtain Employee Buy-In
It’s impossible for one team or department to create a comprehensive data ethics policy in a vacuum. As such, another critical step is ensuring that all levels of management and frontline employees are involved in the development and implementation of these policies. One strategy for obtaining the initial buy-in and ensuring that all parties remain engaged is instituting a formal process for reviewing data protection policies and regularly updating them.
Ensure IT Systems are Secure
To avoid data being exposed in a security breach, organizations must take steps to safeguard their systems against malware, phishing, and other hacking attempts. A good strategy is engaging with a third-party security firm to regularly audit systems, deploy their recommendations, and continually educate employees on the evolving threat landscape.
Closely Monitor Activity
It’s important that companies know where personal data is stored, whether online or offline, and take steps to prevent this information from being accidentally lost or stolen.
Encourage Customers to Provide Informed Consent
Organizations should clearly outline why they are collecting customers’ personal information—and what they plan to do with it—as part of obtaining consent. They should also highlight any risks associated with providing this information and offer choices like opting out whenever possible.
Be Transparent About Policy Changes
Should a company change its data collection or usage policies, it’s essential to inform customers immediately so that they can make informed decisions about how they’re sharing their data and how they want to conduct business with the organization going forward.
You can read more about these best practices and related data ethics concerns here. And if you’re interested in exploring the topic further, take a look at some of our previous APEX of Innovation posts on ethical considerations here.