Everybody talks about ethics but it seems nobody cares about it. The “ethics” talk is all about rules: bribery, conflict of interest, financial disclosure laws, nepotism, and the rest of the litany of rules of conduct that you can be fired or prosecuted for breaking.
If you subscribe to a Google alert for “ethics” you learned today that a key aide to the governor of Illinois was fined $500 and forced to resign for sending a campaign email on his state-issued cell phone. Or that the former Massachusetts State Auditor was fined $2,000 for by putting his unqualified 75-year-old cousin on the state payroll. Or that lobbyists are buying meals for Oklahoma lawmakers. That’s not about ethics, that’s about rules
Moreover, corporate ethics officers are so concerned with preventing criminal violations that they don’t have much (…any?) time for such things as the Golden Rule, arguing with the boss, or keeping one’s commitments. This became depressingly clear to me after I attended a meeting of ethics officers and academics. The meeting had focused on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal for American companies to pay bribes overseas.
After the meeting I made an offer to the attendees that I thought they couldn’t refuse: (more…)