10/05/2004

Ethics 101 for CEO's

Business Week magazine wrote an article Ethics 101 for CEO's (Jan. 26, 2004). Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia is going to conduct research on developing a business school ethics program, and lead seminars for the nations CEO's. Implementing this program will help set and maintain the highest ethical standards which start at the head of the company. This effort will support CEO's and other business leaders to maintain a culture of ethical business practices. There is a concern whether this program will actually work. Will CEO's with big egos listen on what is good ethics practice? By the time CEO's become a CEO, they are set already in their own ways.

Ethics should play an important role on how a business is run. However, are ethics really practiced? Ethics can be a waste of time because ethical terms are easily shoved aside in the heat of competition. Look at ERON, how ethical where some of the upper management?

Ethics needs to be started from the top. If the CEO of the company is following their ethics codes then lower management and employee's will follow and if not started from the top, the rest of the company will follow. Ethics should be practice in all types of business but will this ethics program/seminars will actually work?

9 comments:

Julie said...

I work as an office manager for a small business and almost daily I'm presented with an opportunity to do something unethical, not illegal, just unethical. It takes a conscious decision to choose to act ethically. I found that the more good decisions I've made the easier it is to continue. Acting ethically hasn't hurt the business, even though we face stiff competition. I agree that ethics needs to come from the top. I know that my boss wants me to do what's right, not just what will make us the most money, so I feel free to do the right thing.

Bryce Larkin said...

Most CEOs are not "stuck in their ways" if they are going to last. Companies have to eventually change to keep up with the global marketplace. I believe ethics for a CEO is wonderful. I agree that if management is ethical, then the concept will move down to lower management and so on. I think it will also be excepted because the board of directors and investors want an ethical CEO. This will help influence the CEOs to take a class to prove they have been taught ethics.

John West said...

Ethics are hard to come by in the heat of competition. When your job is on the line, what do you do? I think that you must decide early on in life what kind of person you want to be. By doing so will help in situations that call for less than ethical behavior. Corporate scandals don't have to be on the headlines of the papers forever. This is a respectable endeavor that Darden is undertaking. I wonder if they will be eithical when charging fees for their courses. Wouldn't it be easy to charge more to a CEO than a traditional student for basically the same costs.

Rufio said...

Good ethics can improve the business world no matter where they come from. If lower level managers practice good ethics top level managers will eventually follow. Just being a good example of ethics can go a lot farther than you think it can. One person being ethical can grow into two people being ethical and so on. As top level managers see lower level ethical behavior they will be inclined to become ethical themselves as to become a part of the business community. This kind of class would never be detrimental.

John West said...

I would argue the point, that high level executives will follow suit to lower-level managers that exhibit high ethical standards. First of all, if a high-level executive wants to do something his or her way, they don't exactly need the approval of a lower-level manager. Lower-level managers are more likely to adhere to what officers in a particular firm have to say, rather than the other way around.

natty said...

In most of my business classes this semester, there has been an ethics discussion (or several). I have sometimes been surprised by other student's viewpoints. I believe that ethics are value based. I believe that those values have been formed over an entire lifetime and they are very difficult to change. I believe that you either have a specific value or you don't. I'm not saying that it is impossible to influence people's values, but I have my doubts about the success of a business school's ethics program.

Janet said...

I agree with jasmine completely. Ethics are not something that can be easily taught. You can express the right and wrong way to run a business but when it comes down to it, the CEO will do whatever they feel. They may think that what they are doing is ethical when another CEO will disagree. There are many opinions of what is ethical or not.

Maudi said...

I agree that ethics are somthing that must start from the top and trickle down. To be ethical one must have moral and the only way that one can have morals is to be taught in the home. One huge issue that our country faces is the fact that Television is raising our society parenting is somthing of the past. Parents are letting their kids do what ever is popular and not teaching them to be ethical.To fix the problem parents need to start parenting.

Dr. Tufte said...

I wonder if all of this is just so much smoke blowing.

Just because we catch executive at Enron, Tyco, and Adelphia in unethical actions, does this mean the behavior is widespread? The other 99% of the Fortune 500 don't seem to have this problem. I don't want to be naive about this, but don't the people there have a right to have their behavior viewed innocently, rather than guilty by association?

And, to turn this argument on its head, every time the economy goes bad we have a cathartic experience in this country with business ethics. I wonder how much of this is scapegoating. If any of it is, who is being unethical?