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Long Term Thinking Means Ending Short-Term Reports

The chorus to end quarterly corporate reporting recently gained two prominent voices from the financial world. In a recent article in Bloomberg, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, and Warren Buffett, the Chairman of Berkshire-Hathaway, advised companies to do away with their emphasis on quarterly earnings reports, arguing that it motivates misconduct and shifts the focus from sustained growth and stability to immediate profits and performance.

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Inquiry into Australia’s Banking and Finance Industry

By Dennis Gentilin, founding director of Human Systems Advisory and an adjunct fellow at Macquarie University. He was employed at the National Australia Bank for 16 years.

 

As readers of this blog may know, there is currently an inquiry into the banking and finance industry in Australia. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry in November 2017. Former High Court Judge Kenneth Hayne AC was appointed as the commissioner shortly after the announcement and public hearings commenced earlier this year.

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FCA UK Culture Conference Event Summary & Next Steps

At the recent Financial Conduct Authority March 2018 meeting in London, Ethical Systems Executive Director Azish Filabi and collaborator Celia Moore participated in panels featuring fellow experts discussing current, pressing issues in regards to culture, regulation, ethics and compliance in the financial sector.

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Regulating for Ethical Culture in Behavioral Science & Policy

Ethical Systems partnered with The Behavioral Science and Policy Association (BSPA) to put on our 2016 conference “Ethics By Design.” One byproduct of the event- in addition to knowledge transfer and widespread press coverage- was the extension of our conference theme in an issue of BSPA’s interdisciplinary journal Behavioral Science & Policy (published twice yearly with the Brookings Institution) with a focus on applying behavioral science strategies and strengthening ethical culture. 

In a "spotlight on ethics," co-edited by Jon Haidt and Azish Filabi, the Journal's issue has just been released with three review articles on how behavioral insights can guide policies and interventions meant to promote ethical behavior. The three pieces include: “Treating ethics as a design problem,” by ES collab Nicholas Epley alongside David Tannenbaum, “Using behavioral ethics to curb corruption,” by friend of ES Yuval Feldman and the essay we summarize below, “Regulating for ethical culture,” by ES collab Linda Trevino, co-founder Jonathan Haidt and Executive Director Azish Filabi.

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Tribes, vibes and hives: improving diversity through science

This is an article by Laura Smart cross-posted from Insight, the opinion and analysis page of the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Original post.

 

Behavioural science can tell us a lot about how humans are hardwired, and where efforts to improve diversity will be best spent.

In 1951, Solomon Asch carried out an experiment which was to become one of the most widely known and pivotal findings in psychology.

Wanting to investigate how people were influenced by others when making decisions, he recruited students to judge the relative lengths of lines on a piece of paper. The catch was that each student was put into a group which, unknown to them, was made up of actors who had been instructed to give the same, obviously incorrect, answer some of the time.

The videos show the conflict faced by the participants when they come to give their verdict after listening to others ahead of them denying what is in front of their eyes. All in all, 70% of participants gave the same answer as the others at least some of the time - despite knowing that it was wrong.

There lies a perfect illustration of the dangers of conformity and groupthink - dangers that employers are increasingly trying to tackle, in part, through increasing diversity.

In financial services, considerable effort and resources have been put into diversity and inclusion programmes, including mandating training, introducing targets and changing recruitment processes.  But senior managers often find it hard to know which efforts are most effective and where resources would be best spent.

Fortunately, behavioural science can tell us a lot about this.  And some of the findings might come as a surprise.

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A Behavioral Science Approach to Bank Culture, with Azish Filabi

At a recent Thomson Reuters forum in New York on culture and behavioral science in the banking industry, Ethical Systems' Executive Director Azish Filabi joined a panel with fellow experts to discuss how research and data helps shape ethics and culture.

We invite you to read a piece on Reuters on the event featuring the following takeaways we share in this blog. Video from the event is also embedded. 

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Featured Expert Francesca Gino: On Rebel Talent, Culture and Ethics

Featured Expert Francesca Gino on her new book Rebel Talent

 

Your new book, Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life was just published! Congratulations. First off, what defines a rebel? Traditionally the word connotes someone going against the grain without a care towards consequences but here it is used as a positive with beneficial consequences.

We have a very particular idea of what the rebels of the business world look like. It is an idea that hews to the myth of Steve Jobs: Creative, yes, but control freaks who create chaos and are difficult to have as a boss or an employee. In my research, though, I have found that there are many people who break rules in ways that are positive and productive. We can learn from them: their lives are especially rich and rewarding. But the big surprise is how much organizations stand to gain. We live in a world that is ever changing, and rebels are masters of innovation and reinvention. Encouraging the right kind of rule breaking is what today’s workplaces need to do to adapt. 

I discovered the power of a particular kind of rule breaking at the business-process-outsourcing division of the Indian IT company Wipro. The call center perfectly exemplifies the rules-based approach to modern service work. After all, a job well done is a job that follows a script. In an experiment, my colleagues and I had some of Wipro’s new employees take 30 minutes during their initial training to think about what was unique about them, what their strengths were, and how they could bring out their authentic selves in their jobs. Once on the job, these employees found ways to tailor their jobs so they could be their true selves, bringing more of themselves into the way they answered calls, for example. They performed better, and were more likely to stay at Wipro. Businesses have all sorts of rules that tell people how to do their job, from standard procedures that need to be followed, detailed chains of command, with rules on what to wear or how to talk to customers. The way these rules specify how people should get their work done prevents them from bringing to the company their biggest assess: themselves.

Going off script does not mean not doing the job. Think of the famous Southwest safety announcements, like this one by Marty Cobb, a Texas-based flight attendant: “My ex-husband, my new boyfriend, and their divorce attorney are going to show you the safety features of the Boeing 737 800 series.” She earned giggles from the passengers, but she also got their attention. When Ed Catmull, President and cofounder of Pixar Animation Studios, talks to new employees during their initial orientation, he tells them about bad choices and mistakes the company has made in the past as a way to stress that the organization is not perfect, and that their ideas and voice will be valued.

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New Behavioral Science One Sheet: Motivated Reasoning

Our newest topic is "Motivated Reasoning" explaining how the process by which we make decisions is less like a judge who carefully evaluates all the facts and arrives at a well-reasoned judgment and more like a lawyer who advocates for a particular outcome.

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Creating and Maintaining a Healthy Corporate Culture: RANE podcast with Azish Filabi

In this podcast, (Risk Assessment Network + Exchange) RANE’s Serina Vash sits down with Azish Filabi, Executive Director, Ethical Systems, to discuss what drives a healthy corporate culture and best practices for creating and maintaining that culture. Through research and collaboration with the best academics in the field, Azish dedicates her time to helping businesses assess and promote ethical behavior and culture in their organizations.

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Middle Meddling: Management and ethics

Goal setting is often a subject of discussion about behavioral ethics and internal programs.  We’ve seen in recent cases such as at Wells Fargo and Volkswagen how cheating and lying become the norm when performance goals are not reasonably achievable.  Recent evidence in a paper by Niki den Nieuwenboer, João da Cunha, and ES collaborator Linda Treviño shows the internal dynamics and processes that lead directly to cheating behaviors.  

 

The researchers, one of which was embedded inside the company, observed managers and sales staff over 15 months at a large (10,000 employees) telecommunications company.  The company had established goals for its desk sales teams designed to motivate productivity, including a target for sales as well as sales-related work, such as making cold calls to customers, and gathering information about potential customers, among other planning activities.

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