View From the Top: JetBlue, Governance & Compliance

JetBlue Airways President and CEO David Barger, and JetBlue Chairman of the Board Joel Peterson, will explore tone-at-the-top, cultures of integrity, and the evolution of JetBlue’s corporate governance and compliance programs. To be explored: How JetBlue built integrity as a core value to be considered in every decision made by every crewmember; why JetBlue separated the CEO and Chairman roles, and more.

These are my notes, live from the keynote:

The top two executives at Jet Blue sat down with Compliance Week‘s Editor-in-Chief, Matt Kelly. David started off with a great story about how the company came into being. There was a particularly amusing story about how they almost named the airline “Taxi.”

Joel pointed out that it’s harder to comply with values than it is to comply with rules. Values are more effective.

Jet Blue split the CEO and Chairman positions. Joel is an independent director from outside the industry. He is not an aviation guy, he’s a real estate guy.

One of the keys to teaching values is to keep it simple. They start with the key values on day one.

Transparency is a key effort. You need to build trust into the organization. Trust with your employees and trust with your customers.

Joel emphasized the importance of stories. Gather the stories of when your employees do the right thing and make the ethical choice. Stories can be more powerful than metrics.

One key to improving self-reporting you to make the employee comfortable that its okay to disclose mistakes. We learn from mistakes. Willful malfeasance will still get you fired.

The speakers were very engaging, but there was lot’s of spin and selling of the JetBlue brand. I like the airline and I like these guys. The session was just short on substance.

For another view on the keynote see Melissa Klein Aguilar’s article in Compliance Week’s Filing Cabinet: JetBlue on Why CEO/Chair Split Works for Them.

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