Ethikos Editor’s Weekly Picks: The Ethical Workplace: Easy to Say, More Difficult to Do


Examining ethics and compliance issues in business since 1987

The ethical workplace: Easy to say, more difficult to do

By Bruce Mitchell for Lake News online

Whenever there’s news of a corporate financial scandal, dishonesty, a negligence lawsuit, we wonder why doing the right thing is so difficult. In truth, it isn’t. Most of the time, businesses of all sizes treat their customers, employees, suppliers, and colleagues with honesty and integrity. Yet the temptation to cut corners or say something known not to be entirely accurate is always there, particularly when one rationalizes it as “just this once.“

The problem is “just this once” opens the door to doing it again, and again. If you get away with it, you still know about it. And if you don’t, renowned investor Warren Buffett said it best: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation, and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Read more

ZINK: Do the right thing – ethics in your business

By Dennis Zink for Herald-Tribune

“Corporate corruption is widespread. Some leaders are out-and-out crooks directing malfeasance from the top. More often, employees bend or break rules because those in charge are blind to unethical behavior and may unknowingly encourage it.”

So says Harvard Business Review.

A business sector with countless examples of an ethical morass is the automotive industry. Dating from the Ford Pinto era, rear-end collisions often ruptured fuel tanks, resulting in leaking fuel and deadly explosions. Casualties were thought of in terms of a dollar amount to settle lawsuits as a cheaper alternative to fixing the problem. Much more recently, General Motors had a massive recall involving faulty ignition parts that was a result of saving pennies at the expense of its reputation and lost lives. And in the biggest automotive recall in history, defective Takata airbag inflators in cars made by several manufacturers showed a high risk of killing passengers with pieces of shrapnel. Volkswagen cheated on diesel-emissions tests. Read more

List of ethical issues in business

By Kenneth V. Oster for Houston Chronicle

The most fundamental or essential ethical issues that businesses must face are integrity and trust. A basic understanding of integrity includes the idea of conducting your business affairs with honesty and a commitment to treating every customer fairly. When customers perceive that a company is exhibiting an unwavering commitment to ethical business practices, a high level of trust can develop between the business and the people it seeks to serve. A relationship of trust between you and your customers may be a key determinate to your company’s success. Read more

What can Jay-Z and Beyoncé teach us about corporate accountability?

By Knowledge@Wharton  for Wharton University of Pennsylvania

The framework of any country’s legal system relies heavily on the concept of holding parties accountable for wrongdoing. When promises are broken, it is reasonable to expect an apology from the transgressor and redress for the victim. This moral obligation is known as a directed duty, which seems simple until it is viewed through the lens of the law. How, for example, does directed duty work in the case of a company that has done something wrong? In an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, Julian Jonker, a Wharton legal studies and business ethics professor, discusses his latest research on this concept and how it applies to individuals and corporations. Read more


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