BUSINESS ETHICS INSIGHT: If you treasure trust and the good reputation it can produce, remember the oath you are required to take before you testify in court: “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” – Michael Josephson

 

 I’ve never worked with a corporation that did not talk about the importance of trust as a critical component of a critical business asset – reputation. Yet I’ve worked with quite a few folks who failed to see the inevitable connection between outright lies and more subtle forms of deception and credibility, the basis of trust. Lots of people wend …

BUSINESS ETHICS INSIGHT: Beware of the White Lie Trap

 

 Why is it that the shade of a lie looks so different to the person lied to than the liar? People who lie, sometimes for personal advantage (including avoiding an unpleasant confrontation) and other times to protect the feelings of the person lied to, tend to see their falsehood in shades of white. People lied to tend to see the …

Insight on Character: You don’t have to be sick to get better and it is never too late to get better.

 

 There’s no doubt that our character has a profound effect on our future. What we must remember, however, is not merely how powerful character is in influencing our destiny, but how powerful we are in shaping our own character and, therefore, our own destiny. Character may determine our fate, but character is not determined by fate. It’s a common mistake to think of character as something that is …

Do business organizations have a moral obligation to keep promises?

 

 While conducting a workshop on corporate values for senior executives of a Fortune 100company, I suggested that promise-keeping was a central aspect of trustworthiness, that it is an ethical as well as a legal responsibility to keep commitments. The company’s legal counsel objected strenuously. “Hold on!” he said. He explained that whether the company decided to live up to an agreement was a …

Role of the Ethics Officer

 

 The Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics posted a series of videos with Linda Trevino, Professor of Organizational Behavior and Ethics at Smeal College of Business, on their YouTube channel.  The videos cover topics such as: the intersection between CSR and ethics programs,  teaching business ethics, cheating in business schools, values-based vs. compliance-based ethics programs and dozens more.  The videos …

Business Case #11: Abrasive Personality in the Workplace

 

 Jan is a clerk with a very abrasive personality. She is usually competent but at least once a month she says or does something that seriously offends co-workers or members of the public. Dan, her supervisor, has counseled her several times but concludes she is a negative influence and he wants to terminate her but this is her fourth year …

Accountability

 

 Ambrose Pierce, a nineteenth-century humorist, defined responsibility, as “A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one’s neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star.” Being accountable means accepting responsibility for who we are, and for our character, personalities, attitudes, and weaknesses. Even for our happiness. The …

Avoiding Unfair Conduct

 

 One of the problems with interpreting the concepts of fairness and justice is that so many factors can go into the notion of a fair judgment. There is rarely one single result dictated by ethical analysis. Consequently, we often do not know what is truly fair. We do, however, often know what is unfair, and our first obligation is to …

Using the Six Pillars of Character to Get More From Your Organization

 

 Michael Josephson explains how the Six Pillars of Character relate to everyday business operations and how they can be used to get more out of your organization.  Almost all companies are in what we call a compliance mode after the creation of rules and statutes like Sarbanes-Oxley. Compliance is the concept of rules and industry regulations creating the “laws” of …