By Wendy Meyeroff
The Sarbanes-Oxley ethics law passed early in the 21st century in the wake of the Enron and Worldcom scandals, which created recognition that public companies needed more than just a code of ethics on paper. "A lot of companies had that code, but no real way to incorporate ethics and compliance into their business culture," says Nan Stout, a vice president at Staples.
Stout isn't just any VP. She has a fairly unique title: vice president of business ethics. She assumed that title in 2004, after she'd been responsible for labor and employment law at the company for about 10 years. She says after the ethics law was enacted, "a lot of companies had a code of ethics, but no real way to incorporate ethics and compliance into their business culture. We held ourselves to a higher standard."