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Crosspost: The (Il)legitimacy of Compliance?

Cross posted from NYU Law's PCCE's Compliance & Enforcement blog.

 

Each new compliance scandal triggers something of a “what were they thinking” response among those who consider it self-evident that sensible people inside a business organization would try hard to avoid behaviors that can bring such serious legal and reputation harm.  So it is with the current subject of fascination, Wells Fargo. “Salespeople” (many of whom were branch employees serving customers’ basic banking needs) created millions of unauthorized customer accounts of various sorts in order to generate fee revenues.  While some corporate legal violations are implicitly blessed from above because any sanctions can be seen as just the cost of doing business, such was probably not the case here.

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​​​​​​​Featured Collaborators for June: Ethics By Design Speakers

Each month, Ethical Systems publishes an interview with one of our esteemed collaborators covering their research and work in an area relating to ethics and ethical systems design.

For June, however, we decided to upend that tradition and focus on the wealth of expertise at our conference on June 3rd. Truly, it would not be an Ethical Systems event without a leading group of academics and practitioners exchanging resources and strategies around strengthening the ethical climate and culture of today's business world.

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Risking Reputation Rarely Rewarded: Lessons From The Lending Club

The recent news about Lending Club is a prime example of the reputational value of business ethics.  Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported the company’s twisted fate – it went from receiving a Tribeca “Disruptive Innovation Award” in April (given to then-CEO Renaud LaPlanche) to suffering tumbling stock prices in May, plummeting from approximately $8 on April 1, to a low of $3.94 on the day (May 16th) the WSJ report came out. 

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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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