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.
2017 has been a year of surprises, transformation, and growth. Thirteen months ago, on the morning after Election Day, we walked in to the conference room of a global consulting firm based here in New York City. We sat down at a long table with 30 ethics and compliance officers. We gave our talk as planned—a talk on designing ethical systems. But all of us around the table were in a state of… surprise to say the least. Our conversation focused primarily on the consequences of the rather unexpected election of Donald Trump. What were the implications for businesses? How would rules and enforcement change?
Now, a year later, it is clear that whatever regulations are rolled back, businesses face an ever-changing landscape of ethics challenges. Questions of business ethics and ethical culture are front and center in national discussions on sexual harassment in the workplace, diversity and inclusion (which may include viewpoint and political diversity, as we learned in response to the famous “Google memo”); fairness and cheating, and new pressures on leaders to take stands on political controversies. We are on a path to further deregulation of business. The compliance workload may decrease, but the ethics workload will likely increase. This is the time for the business ethics community to show that, together, we can create a better society through ethical business behavior.
Interview with Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind and Thomas Cooley Professor of Business Ethics at NYU Stern
What are your main areas of research/work around business ethics?
What I discovered when I moved to NYU-Stern in 2011 is that there’s a lot of great research on behavioral ethics going on at business schools, which I had not known about as a social psychologist studying morality, and which ethics and compliance officers generally didn’t know about. What was needed was a way to gather up all the existing research and make it available and accessible to businesspeople. That’s why I created the first iteration of Ethical Systems back in 2011 – it was originally just a simple website to bring together all the varied worlds of knowledge that one needs before one can try to improve these complicated things called corporations. In 2014 the site was re-launched as the much larger collaborative project that it is today. Through our collaborative approach, we are researching topics where we think business could benefit, such as culture measurement.
As we at Ethical Systems often state, we believe that integrity in business can be enhanced by leaders who take a systems-approach to the organizations and environments in which they operate.
IEX is a model of such leadership and systems thinking in business. Jonathan Haidt and I had the pleasure to meet the team there in January and learn about their motivations, practices and approach to business relationships and investor protection. The meeting was initiated by Chatham Financial, who succinctly summarizes the opportunities and challenges of running an ethical business by highlighting IEX's role in improving trust in the financial services in an OpEd on CNBC.
IEX currently has an application pending before the SEC to be approved as a national securities exchange. Ethical Systems submitted a comment letter in support of approval of that application and we invite you to read it here.