Jeremy Willinger's blog

The Ethics & Compliance Initiative Partners with Ethical Systems

ARLINGTON, VA, February 7th, 2018 – The Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI), the nation’s oldest ethics research and best practice community, today announces a partnership with Ethical Systems, a research collaboration comprised of the nation’s leading scholars specializing in the study of ethical culture and behavior in organizations.  As two respected thought leaders who share a common interest in advancing the highest standards of ethical behavior in organizations, this partnership will provide a platform for both parties to conduct joint research, to develop new metrics, and to expand their reach with new insights that will shape best practice in organizational ethics. 

“This partnership has great promise to significantly enhance our understanding of the importance of ethics and culture in organizations,” said Patricia Harned, ECI’s CEO.  “ECI is delighted to be able to work closely with the most highly regarded scholars in our industry, and we look forward to the collaboration that we know will benefit organizational leaders and students in higher education.

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Under Pressure: Wells Fargo, Misconduct, Leadership and Culture

Consistent with our mission to bring timely and relevant research to the business ethics community, Ethical Systems has just published a new electronic resource: Under Pressure: Wells Fargo, Misconduct, Leadership and Culture.

This case study, created by Bharathy Premachandra, our 2017 Bryan Turner Intern in Business Ethics, with Azish Filabi, Executive Director of Ethical Systems, spotlights the lessons learned from the recent scandal at Wells Fargo around false accounts, inflated sales targets and misguided directives from bank executives.

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New Behavioral Science One Sheet: Goals Gone Wild

Ethical Systems has released our newest Behavioral Science One Sheet, created in partnership with the Notre Dame Center for Ethical Leadership.

Our Winter 2017 one sheet on Goals Gone Wild encompasses the concept of goal setting and how doing so can inadvertently lead to unethical behavior in organizations. We credit Professor Lisa Ordóñez of the Eller School of Management for her work helping both introduce the topic to the academic field and her work crafting the text on this informative one sheet. 

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Whistleblower: Companies Need to Encourage Speak-Up Culture

Maria Lemos Stein recently interviewed noted consultant Wendy Addison, Founder and Chief Executive of SpeakUp SpeakOut, in The Wall Street Journal. Addison is also known for her personal role as a whistleblower on fraud and corruption in 2000 regarding LeisureNet Ltd., whose joint chief executives were convicted of fraud in one of the biggest corporate scandals in South Africa

Addison promotes a speak up culture as the method by which companies develop an environment where problems are acknowledged and solved transparently, and before a problem becomes widespread. That way, she asserts, companies avoid the fines, reputation loss, and other negatives associated with more public scandal. Further, the person or group reporting the issue does not face internal retribution because speaking up is encouraged at all levels of the organization.

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Ethical Systems seeks a Senior Research Associate

Ethical Systems seeks a Senior Research Associate (remote or in-person)

Help companies improve their ethics while advancing research on organizational behavior!

Ethical Systems is a research collaboration among the leading social and behavioral scientists.  The core team is housed at the NYU Stern School of Business, but the Sr. Research Associate can work remotely. Our mission is to make the world's best research available, for free, to anyone interested in improving the ethical culture and behavior of an organization.  

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2017 End of Year Letter from Jonathan Haidt and Azish Filabi

Dear Friends,

2017 has been a year of surprises, transformation, and growth. Thirteen months ago, on the morning after Election Day, we walked in to the conference room of a global consulting firm based here in New York City. We sat down at a long table with 30 ethics and compliance officers. We gave our talk as planned—a talk on designing ethical systems. But all of us around the table were in a state of… surprise to say the least. Our conversation focused primarily on the consequences of the rather unexpected election of Donald Trump. What were the implications for businesses? How would rules and enforcement change?

Now, a year later, it is clear that whatever regulations are rolled back, businesses face an ever-changing landscape of ethics challenges. Questions of business ethics and ethical culture are front and center in national discussions on sexual harassment in the workplace, diversity and inclusion (which may include viewpoint and political diversity, as we learned in response to the famous “Google memo”); fairness and cheating, and new pressures on leaders to take stands on political controversies. We are on a path to further deregulation of business. The compliance workload may decrease, but the ethics workload will likely increase. This is the time for the business ethics community to show that, together, we can create a better society through ethical business behavior.

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2017 Ethical Systems Collaborator Highlights

For our expanding collaborator network, 2017 was a year of many achievements, significant contributions to research, and broad recognition of their work. We invite you to browse a highlight list of the research, articles, appearances and talks that helped advance our mission and promote a greater understanding of ethics, decision making, and ethical systems design.

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Bridging the Gap: The Oxford Review on the problem of academic-practitioner distance

David Wilkinson, Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Review, has written an incredibly insightful piece on the gap between the world of research and that of business- what he deems the “academic-practitioner distance.” It both underscores the mission of Ethical Systems and spotlights the reasons why it is in the best interest of both communities to close this chasm.

Wilkinson shows how “The gap isn’t just a physical one, [extending to] a gap of perspective, language, understanding and thinking.” 

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Cathy O’Neil to the Ivory Tower: Stop ignoring the ethics risks in tech

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in most all aspects of modern business and social life is now ubiquitous. From wealth management, to hiring employees, assessing the effectiveness of teachers, and our news feeds, AI impacts most every aspect of our day-to-day life — whether or not we are aware of it.

As the use of AI has grown, so has a corresponding gap in the ability of many companies and people to explain what, how, and most importantly, why these bots make certain decisions.  In a NYT op-ed this week, Cathy O’Neil gives academics a call to action — the time has come to provide a deeper, and unbiased view of the risks of AI and the ethics challenges we face as their power and influence grows.

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The Flip Side of the Quarter: Only 25% of employees think colleagues model ethical behavior

A recent survey by Gartner (formerly CEB) indicates some bleak stats for companies —  the 2017 poll of 5,000 workers in the U.S. indicates that “only 25 percent of employees believe their teammates and colleagues engage in and model the right ethical behaviors.”

This is a lost opportunity for many organizations. Research that shows that running an ethical organization pays off financially in the long-run. The CEB/Gartner findings also indicate, “Employees from strong cultures of integrity are 90 percent less likely to observe misconduct and are more likely to report that which they do see. They are also more likely to over-perform on individual and team goals. Gartner also notes financial opportunities – notably, that companies with strong cultures of integrity have 10-year total shareholder returns 7 percentage points higher than companies with low perceptions of integrity.”

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