Week That Was in Ethical Systems, 1/13-1/19

For the Love of Money, in The New York Times

A former hedge fund trader shares his personal experience of how the “wealth addiction” that afflicts much of Wall Street creates “a toxic culture that encourages the grandiosity of people who are desperately trying to feel powerful.” An ethically designed organization should make employees feel rewarded and valued for accomplishments other than earning money: responsibility, integrity, and teamwork all come to mind as worthy metrics of success.

Time, Money, and Morality, in Psychological Science

National Affairs’s roundup of academic research last Tuesday headlined this forthcoming article from EthSys contributor Francesca Gino, whose research “found that implicitly activating the construct of time, rather than money, leads individuals to behave more ethically by cheating less.” Priming time encourages reflection on one’s identity, which may lead to a desire to refrain from actions characteristic of a cheater. (See our Cheating page for more on how making one’s sense of self salient reduces unethical conduct.)

More Compliance Chiefs Get Direct Line to Boss, in The Wall Street Journal

“[S]eparate 2013 surveys by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Deloitte…found that about 50% of chief compliance officers report directly to their company’s chief executive or board.” However, broadly speaking the allocation of resources and personnel to compliance remains fairly low, and frequently “compliance officers are placed in an “impossible job” when reporting to the top tier of management, which…often doesn’t want to be challenged.” We at EthicalSystems are nonetheless encouraged by the increased attention to compliance issues in recent months. These ongoing discussions represent the first steps toward real solutions in the future.