ethics

Featured Ethics [and Transparency] Scholar for May: Alison Taylor

Interview with Alison Taylor, Director of BSR’s sustainability management practice

 

What are your main areas of research/work?

I’ve spent most of my career working in consulting roles, helping large companies navigate integrity challenges. These are becoming ever more complex, are not confined to a single department, and require difficult judgment calls at the critical intersection of risk, responsibility, and reputation.  

Currently, I work for BSR, which is a global nonprofit organization that works with its network of more than 250 member companies and other partners to build a just and sustainable world. There, I saw the sustainability field attempting to tackle some core business ethics and integrity challenges, though from a very different angle than the approach taken by risk and compliance teams. Both perspectives are essential, but too many discussions and purported solutions remain separate, in distinct silos.

I see huge potential in a more integrated approach to ethics that incorporates ideas from both compliance and sustainability. The concept of a “culture of compliance” is strangely empty. It may sound obvious to say that corporate values statements must amount to more than words on a website, but the task of giving these concepts substance can be neglected. We still hesitate to question the dominant idea that all decisions to maximize profit are ethically neutral. And we still argue that a private sector organization needs a ‘business case’ for integrity, while expecting that the individuals within that organization should behave ethically. I argue that ideas taken from corporate responsibility and sustainability can provide both the direction and the decision-making frameworks we need to use when tackling today’s challenges in business ethics.

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Building Cultures of Trust at Laureate Education

Ethical Systems seeks to highlight companies with a strong commitment to ethical, speak up cultures and trust. One of these companies is Laureate Education, Inc., who created a series of internal videos for their 70,000 employees about trust, blame and ethics. We present them below with an introduction by Laureate's Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, Mark Snyderman.


Laureate Education, Inc. is the largest global network of degree-granting higher education institutions, with more than one million students enrolled across 70 institutions in 25 countries at campuses and online. Laureate offers high-quality, undergraduate, graduate and specialized degree programs in a wide range of academic disciplines that provide attractive employment prospects. Laureate believes that when our students succeed, countries prosper and societies benefit. This belief is expressed through the company's philosophy of being 'Here for Good' and is represented by its status as a Certified B Corporation™ and conversion in 2015 to a U.S. public benefit corporation, a new class of corporation committed to creating a positive impact on society.

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Our new 'Ask an Ethics Expert' Feature

Expanding on our mission to curate and distil ethics research for the business community, Ethical Systems is proud to launch a new initiative soliciting questions to submit to one of our esteemed collaborators. 

Our "Ask an Ethics Expert" project allows you to learn more about business ethics, culture, decision making and more. Submit your questions online and see your answers in our May newsletter and on our Ask an Ethics Expert page online.

 

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Sharing: The Five Levels of Building an Ethical Culture

We are republishing this piece by Alison Taylor, via Richard Bistrong, exploring the five levels at which companies should build an ethical culture. 


This guest post is by Alison Taylor, Director, BSR,  and first appeared on BSR here

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Featured Ethics [and Human Rights] Scholar for April: Mike Posner

Interview with Mike Posner, Jerome Kohlberg Professor of Ethics and Finance and Director for the Center of Business and Human Rights at NYU Stern School of Business

 

What are your main areas of research/work?

When we launched the Center in 2013, we sought to pioneer new ways of investigating business practices at the industry level. Our methodology prioritizes interview-based research with business leaders and other stakeholders, combined with documentary evidence, policy and data analysis, and visualization.

 

How does strengthening human rights help reduce ethical misconduct in companies?

To date, most approaches to address human rights or sustainability in business have focused on what happens within the four walls of the firm. They focus on the activities of individual managers to improve company practices or corporate financial contributions to improve the environment, women’s empowerment, or public health. We are very focused on how large global companies make money, their business models for doing so, and the human rights risks in their industry that accompany that model.

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Featured Ethics [and Leadership] Scholar for March: Ron Carucci

Interview with Ron Carucci, author, leadership consultant and cofounder / managing partner at Navalent

What are your main areas of research/work?

My colleagues and I at Navalent spend our days working with organizations pursuing dramatic change.  That could be changes in strategy, re designs of organizations, or strengthening of leadership capability. Our writing and research focuses on those same areas – we see our intellectual capital as the opportunity to learn on behalf of the clients we serve.

 

How does strengthening leadership help reduce ethical misconduct in companies?

If you think about the nature of many ethical misconduct, they can often emanate from previously undiscovered character flaws that get exposed when leaders are pressured in broader roles.  Preparing leaders early in their careers to assume increasingly bigger jobs can help reduce the likelihood that the challenges of power and resources, political rivalries, or intensified performance pressures won’t drive leaders to make short-sighted, unethical choices. 

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Making Business Ethics a Cumulative Science

When businesses and researchers cooperate, collaborate and communicate, everyone wins. A new article in the premiere edition of Nature: Human Behavior by Ethical Systems founder Jonathan Haidt of NYU Stern and collaborator Linda Trevino of the University of Pennsylvania  illustrate just how far deeper partnership can take the field of business ethics research and why that will help companies and people to flourish.

In their piece, entitled “Make Business Ethics a Cumulative Science” Haidt and Trevino outline the various factors that have impeded ties between the business and research communities. Some are due to the misalignment between operational models— academics depend on open access to information towards the goal of building on research and understanding, while businesses need to maintain tight control over information about their inner-workings and ethics— while others are based in the complexity of business ethics as a field.

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Featured Ethics [and Governance] Scholar for February: Andrea Bonime-Blanc

Interview with Andrea Bonime-Blanc, Author and CEO of GEC Risk Advisory

 

What are your main areas of research/work?

Even though I teach at a couple of universities (including NYU and ESADE) and hold a PhD (in political science), I am not a scholar in the traditional sense of the word. I have always worked as a lawyer or corporate executive for global companies and four years ago started my own strategic advisory firm (GEC Risk Advisory). That said, my current advisory practice falls under the general rubric of “Strategic ESG (environmental, social and governance) Risk and Value Creation”. Subtopics include:

  • Governance (including cyber-risk governance)
  • Ethics and culture
  • Strategic risk
  • Reputation risk
  • Crisis preparedness
  • Transforming risk into value

Sometimes clients ask me to do practical research – one of my favorite recent client engagements was preparing a white paper for the board of directors of a leading African bank on future trends in global corporate responsibility. I also use my own research on cutting edge topics like reputation risk and cyber-risk governance to push the limits of where we currently are on finding solutions to current serious challenges in the marketplace, focused almost exclusively on what the board and the c-suite need to know.

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Ethical Decision Making: Easy in Training, Harder in Reality

Over the course of a workday, people make innumerable decisions ranging in degrees of severity, from critical to mundane. Often times, choices are made in a vacuum and are considered for only as long as it takes until the next intellectual dilemma or distraction demands our attention. A recent piece by Eugene Soltes in Harvard Business Review explores the difficulty around  ethical decision-making, while also exploring the gap between attempts to train or educate people on organizational ethics and the real-world pressures people face when face with an ethical dilemma (or even recognizing that they may be in an ethical quandary).

Soltes, an Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, points to a variety of executive misdoings by ostensibly smart and talented— not to mention prominent— leaders that illustrate that even those under scrutiny and fully aware of their responsibility for shareholder funds can act in self-serving ways that, in retrospect, they realize are obviously unethical. And, as Soltes writes, in hindsight the fact that these were adverse decisions are not lost on  these individuals, but in the moment they failed to consider the impact or consequences.

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Interview with Rashmi Airan: Law, Blindspots, Prison and Redemption

An interview with Rashmi Airan, speaker on ethics, law and culture; leadership and compliance consultant; and growth strategist

 

Background:

Rashmi was a successful lawyer who graduated with honors from Columbia Law School. After working for several major corporations, she launched an independent law practice in Miami, Florida. During the housing boom, she was recruited to work with a local real-estate developer who later engaged in shady business practices. Her involvement resulted in a one year sentence in Federal prison, alongside a $19M judgment against future earnings, required community service hours and 3 years supervised release.  As a mother of two and devoted community activist, Rashmi has reconfigured her subsequent career to focus on growth strategies and leadership/compliance training for firms, corporations, and graduate schools.  She has also become widely known as a public speaker, sharing her story to help illustrate the ethical perils and situations that can result from a drive to succeed and the blindspots created when pursuing a goal.

This interview has been edited and condensed from a conversation on January 19, 2017.

 

1) What are the main takeaways from your story that you want others to know?

I believe there are many reasons why I am telling my story. I want to help people so that they do not find themselves in the same predicament that I was in and make different choices when faced with daily “gray” decisions.  I finally came to a place of peace that I had done something wrong when I gave myself the freedom to forgive.  After I forgave myself, my lessons became clearer. I reflected on different business relationships and the fact that I had not looked into things deeply enough.  I know there are lessons for both young and seasoned professionals. I believe I can enlighten people to the fact that there is a fine line and we must all walk between the two sides of right and wrong and choose to be on the right side of the line.

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