In a new article in Forbes, ES advisory board member Carsten Tams offers advice on designing ethics and compliance programs that serve to both strengthen adherence to regulatory guidelines and provide employees with a broader measure of moral agency.
The intention behind an action is central to the distinction between "compliance" and "ethical behavior." Compliance is simply behavior in accordance with someone else’s requirements in order to gain rewards or avoid punishment. When people act ethically, they are self-governed. Ethical behavior is prosocial behavior for its own sake. People engage in it for no other reason than that they view it as the right thing to do. As such, ethical behavior is intrinsically motivated.
Our newest topic is "Motivated Reasoning" explaining how the process by which we make decisions is less like a judge who carefully evaluates all the facts and arrives at a well-reasoned judgment and more like a lawyer who advocates for a particular outcome.
Goal setting is often a subject of discussion about behavioral ethics and internal programs. We’ve seen in recent cases such as at Wells Fargo and Volkswagen how cheating and lying become the norm when performance goals are not reasonably achievable. Recent evidence in a paper by Niki den Nieuwenboer, João da Cunha, and ES collaborator Linda Treviño shows the internal dynamics and processes that lead directly to cheating behaviors.
The researchers, one of which was embedded inside the company, observed managers and sales staff over 15 months at a large (10,000 employees) telecommunications company. The company had established goals for its desk sales teams designed to motivate productivity, including a target for sales as well as sales-related work, such as making cold calls to customers, and gathering information about potential customers, among other planning activities.
In today's polarized political climate, it is even more important to know how to engage in constructive dialogue in order to advance mutual business interests and perpetuate a sustainable organizational culture of ethics and respect.
Addressing this head on, Ethical Systems co-founder Jonathan Haidt delivered a mid-day keynote entitled Maintaining Ethical Culture in a Political Whirlwind on day 1 at Ethisphere's Global Ethics Summit 2018.
Featured Interview: Caterina Bulgarella PhD, Culture Architect and Ethics Expert
What are your current areas of work and research?
Both my work and research focus on organizational culture. Over time, this work has become one and the same with building ethics in organizations, consistent with the evolution companies have been going through over the past 10-15 years. Ethical behavior underlines a powerful cocktail of ingredients (e.g., self-regulation, moral awareness, ability to ‘self-organize’ in the face of missing information, etc.). These human qualities and behaviors are also what organizations need to master the unprecedented level of complexity and change they face today.
Featured Culture and Business Ethics Expert: Marshall Schminke, BB&T Professor of Business Ethics at the University of Central Florida
What are your main areas of research around business ethics?
I focus on the idea that ethics don’t happen in isolation. They emerge from a complicated mix of individual and situational factors. My research explores this messy stew and how it drives ethical behavior. More specifically, I study the impact of organizational structure and culture on individual ethics, such as trying to understand climates that support or resist ethical decision making, abusive supervision, moral emotions, and ethical efficacy. My work also examines how ethical and unethical action drifts through organizations. I study how factors like trust and fairness—which provide the foundation for organizational ethics—“trickle down” the organization from managers to supervisors to line employees. Understanding these patterns helps to explain why relatively small changes in ethical or unethical activity may lead to profound, organization-wide effects.
We welcome Marshall Schminke as our newest Ethical Systems collaborator. Marshall serves on the working group for our culture measurement project and is both a leading voice on business ethics in the media and in the classroom.
Marshall Schminke is the BB&T Professor of Business Ethics at the University of Central Florida, where he specializes in business ethics and strategy. He received his doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University, and has served as a Visiting Scholar at Oxford University and the London School of Economics.
Ethical Systems Releases New Behavioral Science eBook: Head to Head: A conversation on behavioral science and ethics
New York, NY – Ethical Systems is pleased to announce the release of Head to Head: A conversation on behavioral science and ethics a new, free eBook created to help practitioners in the ethics and compliance field integrate social and behavioral science research to help strengthen employee-focused programs.
Structured as a series of one-on-one conversations between Ethical Systems CEO Azish Filabi and Ethical Systems collaborator, Jeffrey Kaplan, partner at Kaplan & Walker, LLP, Head to Head demystifies academic research and makes findings applicable to practitioners. Research is curated and explained to make integration into existing programs easy and serviceable. Filabi's deep expertise as a lawyer and work as an Ethics Officer at the NY Fed coupled with Kaplan's pioneering writing on conflict of interest and tenure within the legal community, make for an ideal background from which to distil information and make it palatable for the business world. In addition, Head to Head: A conversation on behavioral science and ethics has been professionally designed to structure content and facilitate the application of the many lessons and tips featured throughout the eBook.
Ethical culture is the linchpin to running an ethical organization. Yet, while everyone agrees that culture is a vital aspect of any successful organization there is no consensus on how to analyze and measure it. At Ethical Systems, we are working with the top researchers on organizational culture and have developed assessment tools that companies can use. Our new Ethical Systems Culture Measurement site provides a suite of modules designed to measure various elements of organizational culture.