Put responsible AI at the heart of your organisation using an ethical innovation strategy


Does your organisation want to pay more attention to ethics when developing or implementing data-driven and AI applications? Are you sometimes lost in how to deal responsibly with data-driven technology? Do ethics still remain fluffy for you and you have no idea where to start and what to do? The Knowledge Centre Data & Society and FARI are currently working on a toolbox that supports organisations in drawing up an ethical innovation strategy at organisational level. In this blog post, we tell you why your organisation should also create an ethical innovation strategy, and how we can help you to do so.

Why an ethical innovation strategy?

The arrival of a new technology or application often triggers many questions. Consider ChatGPT or Microsoft CoPilot, for example. You can easily see its potential added value for your organisation. It might lighten the workload, leaving time for other important things, or simplify certain processes. Yet many uncertainties remain: what is the impact on jobs and job security of employees, or what happens with all that data, is it actually safe?

Even as a developer of new technology, there are times when the question arises what the impact might be on people and society. Are there certain issues that may have been overlooked? Can we simply do this or do that? Are we sure we are not harming anyone here?

Nowadays, there are already many tools and methods available that can help with these kinds of questions. They help, for instance, to make an assessment of a specific technological application or encourage ethical reflection during a brainstorming session. But this is often only a single piece of the puzzle. An ethical assessment is not very impactful if the results remain in the back of a drawer or are only considered by a few people in the back of their minds during the remainder of the process. It is important not to only include ethics at moments or on a project-by-project basis, but to integrate ethics and responsibility at the organisational level as well, to ensure that all elements, such as processes, people and management, are included.

We therefore argue that ethics is an activity that needs to be organised at the organisational level, and an ethical innovation strategy establishes that. Such a strategy consists of several elements, or actions, that ensure ethics becomes an integral part of the organisation's operations. An ethical innovation strategy is thus active, it guides actions and decision-making processes across the organisation within four categories:

  1. Governance & values: establish effective frameworks, a policy and ethical principles that guide decision-making and organisational processes within your organisation.

  2. Methods & processes: implement structured approaches and efficient workflows to achieve your ethical goals, ensuring effectiveness and adaptability across diverse tasks and projects.

  3. Culture & skills: cultivate a positive, critical and adaptive organisational culture while nurturing the necessary skills and competences among employees to address both the technical and social aspects of data and AI.

  4. Communication & involvement: promote transparent, open communication and actively involve stakeholders to ensure collaboration, feedback and shared understanding.

Who creates such a strategy?

An ethical innovation strategy involves the entire organisation. When implementing it, it is therefore important to engage the relevant people. For instance, someone from HR can help devise development plans for employees to improve their competences and skills for ethical technology. Probably the CTO, product owner or manager of the development team is needed to get the internal processes in place.

It is important that one person, or a small team, is responsible and has the overview of all the activities that happen to establish the ethical strategy. This person (or team) should have reasonable decision-making power and/or a mandate to lead the development and implementation of the strategy. This could be someone who has ethics in their portfolio completely or as a subtask, such as a digital ethicist or an ethics officer, or a (project) manager or change manager.

Ally: Build your ethical innovation strategy block by block

Then how do you initiate such an ethical innovation strategy? ‘Ally’ is an online toolbox that supports organisations in creating an ethical innovation strategy. It contains about 25 different building blocks, or actions, that you can implement to put responsible AI at the heart of your organisation. The building blocks each fall under one of the four above categories and vary in how comprehensive and in-depth they are. Thus, for every kind of organisation (small or large, with limited or larger budgets, etc.), there is a feasible and relevant way to achieve a strategy. Through a quick scan about your type of organisation, your focus and available resources, you get a proposal of 5 to 9 recommended building blocks, which you can always change or supplement with other building blocks.

With the composed trajectory of building blocks, you can get started right away. For each building block, it describes what and who is needed, which steps you can take and through which sources you can find more information. The added value of each building block is also described and a PowerPoint download is available to convince others to free up manpower and budgets to implement the actions. For inspiration, there are also cases of other organisations that have gone through one or more building blocks. You can read there about their approach, obstacles and insights regarding that action.

If you still have no idea where to start, a physical workshop is available where you and your team or working group can put together your own path based on the building blocks to create your ethical innovation strategy.


With an ethical innovation strategy, you create clarity for employees, customers, suppliers, users and other stakeholders. You show what you stand for and you ensure that your vision of responsible AI can also become true because the processes, people, culture and communication around data and AI promote ethical behaviour. In this way, ethics becomes something concrete and ordinary, leading to more responsible development, implementation and use of technology in general.