Poisoning the Well: The impact of incivility in the workplace

Culture matters more than any other factor in determining the level of ethical conduct within an organization. Knowing this, leaders need to be ever vigilant to how toxic day to day interactions can poison the working environment.

Christina Porath, associate professor at Georgetown University and co-author of “The Cost of Bad Behavior” recently published an op-ed and online quiz (“No Time to Be Nice at Work,” Sunday, June 21, 2015) in The New York Times illuminating the dramatic degree in which courtesy and consideration in the workplace actually impact individuals. 

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Interested in an Ethical Culture? Build an Ombuds Program

Guest post by John W. ZinsserPacifica Human Communications, LLC.

There is a mechanism for employees of all levels to safely (without fear of retaliation) raise any concern or ask a needed question — an organizational ombuds program.

Properly constructed and executed organizational ombuds programs provide those who access the function a place to:

  • Consider possible solutions;
  • Navigate the complexity of today’s organizations;
  • Sound out an idea; and
  • Build a plan of action to address a situation.

As a result of being involved in these activities, the ombuds program is positioned to raise leadership’s awareness and understanding of key issues the organization faces.

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Book Review: Richard Thaler's "Misbehaving: The making of behavioral economics"

What do economics, psychology, and experimental science have in common? As Richard Thaler implies in Misbehaving: The making of behavioral economics, most economists would say little to none — but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Misbehaving is, first and foremost, a story of how modern economics, finance, and theoretical analysis have become increasingly specialized and narrow without substantial practical value. Utilizing empirical studies and anecdotes, funny stories, and even some jokes, Thaler persuades the reader that behavioral studies — or psychology-motivated disciplines which focus on humans, not mythical rational agents — are here to stay. 

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Book Review: Margaret Heffernan's "Beyond Measure"

Margaret Heffernan's new book "Beyond Measure: The big impact of small changes," is an original manifesto for business leaders. Creating strong organizational cultures does not require multi-million dollar programs; instead, small actions by each employee- from Custodian to CEO- matter more and have the biggest impact.

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FIFA: Corruption, Bribery and No Surprises

Global sport has come to resemble big business in its reach, influence and profit margins- as well as its operating environment in which corruption can, and does, thrive. If there is a lesson to be learned, it is that it would have been a surprise if the organization were not corrupt. The game that FIFA has played for so many years is not the one you see on the field.

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Ethics and Wall Street: Reactions and Reform

In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, many thought ethics reform would come quickly to Wall Street. New laws did come, in the USA and UK. But is the culture changing for the better? A new report (The Street, The Bull and The Crisis: A Survey of the US & UK Financial Services Industry) suggests that there has been little change in the last three years, and there may be some worrying trends among younger employees. 

You can find a quick summary of the report in this article by NPR. To go beyond the summary, we asked our expert suite of collaborators for their reactions. 

The bottom line is that better ethical behavior will come when legal reforms lead to, or are supplemented by, changes in the culture and norms of the financial industry. As Tenbrunsel explains, "Just more regulation without addressing the individual, organizational and industry-level factors probably isn't going to have a very significant impact." Addressing all of those factors simultaneously is our goal at Ethical Systems.

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Featured Collaborator of the Month: Francesca Gino

Interview with Francesca Gino, social scientist, author of "Sidetracked" and professor at Harvard Business School

What are your main areas of research? 

Most people want to behave in ways that are consistent with their self-image as competent, effective, and honest human beings. Yet, even when they are fully committed to acting according to their best intentions, they often reach outcomes that bear little resemblance to their initial goals. Why do people often get sidetracked? This is the question I focus on in my research. My research is organized around two conceptual themes: the study of why people fail to follow through on their intentions of being 1) honest, and 2) competent or effective.

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Ethics and Compliance Trends: Interview with Ellen Hunt of AARP

Part of the mission of Ethical Systems is to enhance the work of practitioners and experts in the ethics and compliance field, as they are on the front lines of helping businesses transform their cultures and their employees act more ethically. 

​In a recent interview with Ellen Hunt, Ethics & Compliance Program Director at AARP, she outlined current trends in the Ethics & Compliance (E&C) field as well as the most important steps businesses can take to encourage ethical behavior among organizations of all types and sizes. AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million.

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Ethics Pays in Business, as in Politics

People often say they want a strong leader more than an ethical leader. David Brooks has a lovely essay in The New York Times demonstrating why this thinking is wrong for political leaders. But the quotes from the article below shows that the argument works just as well for business leaders as it does for politicians.

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Featured Collaborator of the Month: Dan Ariely

Interview with Dan Ariely, the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology & Behavioral Economics at Duke University and columnist for The Wall Street Journal

I study human irrationality in general. I am interested in thinking about how people make mistakes, what kind of mistakes people do, why people make mistakes and how to fix them. These days I am working in several main areas: some research on the psychology of money- to think about why we overspend and under save and what we can do about it. I am also working a little bit on health, i.e. why don't we take care of ourselves, why we overeat and don't take our medicine on time, why we procrastinate, and of course, dishonesty, or why people get themselves into trouble.

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