Ethikos Weekly Editor’s Picks – February 18, 2014



Ethikos Weekly Editor’s Picks

Examining Business Ethics Since 1987

Editor’s Top Choice:

Samoas, Thin Mints, and business ethics

Kelly Richmond Pope writes for the Washington Post, “Crisp Thin Mints, peanut butter Tagalongs and coconutty Samoas are everywhere — it must be Girl Scout Cookie season.

Done right, cookie-selling can pack as many business lessons as calories. As the Girl Scouts Web site argues: ‘Every time you buy a box of cookies, you help girls learn 5 essential skills — goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics. . . . They learn and they earn, all thanks to you!’

But these lessons aren’t learned when Scouts sell outside grocery stores or via mobile app, or, even worse, when parents ask their colleagues to purchase Girl Scout cookies, a query I recently received at a casual work lunch. My friend wasn’t prepared for the lecture that followed. I’d be more than happy to buy cookies from his daughter, I said, but only if she called me on the phone to personally ask for the sale.” Read more

Other Featured Picks of the Week

Barclays advisers’ new performance metric: Their behavior

From The Wall Street Journal, “Barclays PLC is shaking up the way it pays its U.S. financial advisers, breaking with industry practice as the British bank seeks to clean up its image.

Advisers at the Barclays Wealth & Investment Management division in the Americas will no longer get paid solely on how much money they bring in. Going forward, their compensation could be docked for misconduct.” Read more

Should bankers swear an oath to God?

The CNBC reports that starting next year, Dutch bank employees must swear an oath – optionally to God – promising they will perform their duties with integrity and that they will “endeavor to maintain confidence in the financial sector.”

This “banker’s oath” was once simply self-regulation but is now in the Dutch statute books and must be adhered to by every one of the Netherlands’ 90,000 bank employees. Read more

How a firm’s ethical failure can increase employee satisfaction

From Harvard Business Review:

If a company responds vigorously to a breach in ethics, workers who witnessed the breach end up more satisfied with the firm than if no failure had occurred at all (4.55 versus 4.22 on a seven-point satisfaction scale), according to a study of more than 24,000 employees in 16 U.S. companies by Marshall Schminke of the University of Central Florida and colleagues. Read more

The new RoboCop gets robot ethics completely wrong

On Slate’s Future Tense blog, Miles Brundage, writes, “Wednesday marked the release of RoboCop, a remake of the 1987 science fiction classic, and so far critics have been underwhelmed. Putting artistic value aside, however, the movie does convey the gist of some current debates on the legal and ethical aspects of robots, particularly ones capable of making decisions to kill humans in warfare or law enforcement. The fictional robotics company featured in the movie, OmniCorp, is a case study in how to get robot ethics completely wrong. To illustrate this point, I’ll compare the company’s behavior to the five ethical principles for robotics developed by researchers in the United Kingdom between 2010 and 2011.” Read more

If you are not yet a subscriber to the weekly business ethics email, click here to sign up for the free news and information delivered to you weekly.