MCI brings in ethics boss

MCI has appointed a chief ethics officer.

Nancy Higgins, most recently vice president of ethics and business conduct for Lockheed Martin Corp., started today at MCI's Ashburn, Va., headquarters.

The company, which the General Services Administration is considering barring from future federal contracts as a result of recent accounting scandals, is trying to show the government and other customers and shareholders that it is taking steps to prevent a recurrence of bad behavior.

In addition to announcing Higgins' appointment, MCI officials pointed to other recent measures:

* Ethics training for the company's 55,000 employees and contractors.

* Distributing a Code of Ethics & Business Conduct to all employees.

* Enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on violations of the code.

* Creating a confidential Ethics Hotline that allows employees to raise ethics or business conduct concerns.

* The signing of an Ethics Pledge by the company's top 100 executives.

* Developing a new set of 10 Guiding Principles to serve as the foundation for MCI's environment of ethical conduct and corporate transparency.

All of the measures together show a company that is serious about reform, said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting Inc. in Jenkintown, Pa.

"The recent scandals and the [GSA inspector general] report shook MCI to its foundations," he said. "I believe they're ready to be serious about ethics."

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