Tag Archive for: ethics

Biases and Decision Making

From the things we say to the actions we take each day, our world- and that of business- is comprised of thousands of decisions, both big and small. How we come to make those decisions is the result of intuition and analysis and, in most cases, influenced by biases that we may or may not be aware of. 

We know about blind spots in decision making, mostly because of the work of ES collaborators Max Bazerman and Ann Tenbrunsel. A recent graph published in Business Insider: Australia, and included below, depicts additional biases that all would be wise to learn and attempt to obviate when analyzing ideas and programs.

Professionalism and Ethics: A missed connection?

What does professionalism mean to you? Often, people who identify as a professional think of themselves not only as knowledgeable in their discipline, but also rational, objective and serving a higher purpose (e.g., the client’s needs). These are laudable goals, but new research shows that these characteristics could actually lead to people making self-interested, and ultimately unethical or damaging, decisions.  

In a paper on Professionalism and Moral Behavior, Maryam Kouchaki of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, tests the hypothesis that an emphasis on one's professional identity has a greater likelihood of an individual engaging in unethical behavior. This is an important inquiry in light of ethical failures in companies where lawyers and accountants often act as “gatekeepers” on ethics and compliance issues vis a vis corporate practices. Based on evidence from her lab studies and employee surveys, Kouchaki concludes that priming professionalism may actually lead to increased misbehavior.

Did You Get the Memo? Confronting Corporate Wrongdoing

After the financial crisis of 2008 and the current, ongoing instances of large fines levied against banks and other financial companies, many people continually bemoan why penalties have not also included jail time and prosecution of executives who have behaved unethically. The message has finally reached the highest levels of government and change is on the horizon. 

In a speech at NYU Law last week, hosted by the school's Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement, Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates presented the memo covering a new Department of Justice initiative designed to fight corporate fraud and other misconduct by going after individuals who perpetrated the wrongdoing. In addition to punitive actions against an organization (what many see as a macro-level punishment that does little to deter misconduct on the micro, or personal, level), the DOJ will now turn its considerable resources to affecting change at the source, i.e. those that engage in personal malfeasance under the guise of doing their job.

My First Week: Azish Filabi and Ethical Systems

I begin this week in my role as CEO of Ethical Systems. Joining this fantastic team and meeting colleagues in NYU Stern's Business and Society Program strengthens my belief that ethics and business can operate hand-in-hand to create lasting value in society.

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Navigating the Amazon: Workplace Culture and Ethics

fulfillment.jpgWhile talk in August can normally drift to Labor Day vacation plans and how to brew the perfect pitcher of iced tea, a different sort of discussion began to surface in offices (and backyards) across America: that of workplace culture and the different extremes that workers at Amazon report as the norm.

The New York Times article that started it all, "Wrestling Big Ideas in a Grueling Workplace," provided an eye-opening look into the management practices, feedback loops and performance measurement metrics at Amazon, eliciting both accolades and acrimony from current and former employees. After much debate, the dust settled at a realization that the intensity is both a blessing and a curse and tailored for only certain kinds of personalities. An overarching theme was that burnout is common and, to a certain extent, expected. 

Featured Collaborator for September: Nick Epley

Interview with Nick Epley, author of "Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Believe, Feel, and Want" and professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business

 

I study mind reading. Not the nonsensical, spooky or supernatural versions of it, but rather the very natural and intuitive version of it that we do whenever we make an inference about another person’s mind. We do this arguably every social interaction we have when we wonder what someone else is thinking, believing, feeling, or wanting. This is hard to do accurately because another person’s mind is inherently invisible. 

You can’t see another person’s thought, hold a want, or poke a feeling. As a result, our inferences about the minds of others are far less than perfect, and we are consistently less accurate than we think we are. I’m most interested in understanding these gaps between our inferences about each other and reality. The mistakes we make are a common source of unnecessary conflict in everyday life.

A Dream Remit For the New DOJ Compliance Counsel

Designing ethical systems is about having the right policies and programs in place- as well as the right people. Recently, the Department of Justice took a needed step forward by retaining a new full-time expert in compliance programs for their prosecution team. ES collaborator Jeffrey Kaplan, of Kaplan & Walker, LLP explains in a new Conflicts of Interest blog entry, cross posted below, how the new hire will allow the government to advance not only their understanding of how to strengthen and evaluate organizational compliance programs, but how the DOJ can leverage this position to put forth an agenda that highlights positive actions in the field.

Framing the Language of Business

Framing is not just how you present a painting. Framing helps to communicate the type of art, it complements subject matter, and it influences how the viewer perceives the image. Framing also matters when it comes to business, and the language we use can deeply affect both the rules we follow and those we are willing to break.

While business has its own lexicon, a new piece in Ethisphere by Scott Killingsworth, Senior Counsel with Bryan Cave LLP in Atlanta, illustrates that when we couch the business of business in terms of war and gamification, we prime the pump for pernicious results.

Why CEO Activism Could Change the World of Public Companies

Guest post by Ann B. Graham

In the past few months, a string of CEOs from large American public companies have spoken boldly on some of the most divisive societal concerns of our time: LGTB rights, gun control and racism and police brutality. The business press has dubbed them “Activist CEOs.”

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.