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At the Center

Capturing the lively discussions, presentations, and other events that make up the daily activities of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

The following postings have been filtered by category Business Ethics. clear filter
  •  Creating an Ethical Corporate Culture

    Thursday, Mar. 13, 2014 12:59 PM

    You are responsible for the ethical culture of your business organization.

    That’s the message of a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in business ethics taught by Kirk O. Hanson, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. “Yes,” Hanson says, “the C-suite executives and the Board of Directors may set the ethical tone of a company, but every person in an organization, particularly managers and supervisors, has a role in strengthening the ethical culture. How managers and supervisors fulfill this responsibility is the subject of this course.”

    The free MOOC, Creating an Ethical Corporate Culture, offers:

    • four key approaches to building an ethical organization
    • 10 tools for shaping the culture and keeping it strong
    • how to anticipate and manage unavoidable challenges to an ethical culture
    • the proven link between ethics, corporate culture, and business performance

    Hanson, a pioneer in the business ethics field, taught for 23 years at the Stanford Graduate School of Business before taking on the directorship of the Markkula Ethics Center. He designed this MOOC for working businesspeople so that they can take the course at their own pace. It deals with the responsibilities of line managers, executives, and directors.

    Students can enter the course any time before June 30. It is organized to take no more than 2-3 hours per week, and to be completed in four weeks. Those who do all of the assignments receive a letter of completion from the Ethics Center.

    The course is the second MOOC on business ethics offered by the Center. The first, Business Ethics for the Real World, provides an introduction to ethical decision making. More than 1,700 people registered for that course, which remains open until June 30.

    “One of the most exciting things about MOOCs,” Hanson says, “is the incredible diversity of voices among those who participate. In our first MOOC, we had registrants from 133 different countries including Congo, Vietnam, the Maldives, and Yemen. People come from a wide variety of different industries and they bring these perspectives to course discussions.”

    The courses are meeting the needs of people who might not otherwise have been able to take such a class. As one graduate of Business Ethics for the Real World said, “I took the first course and really enjoyed it, and so I enrolled in the next course. I hope to learn as I did in the first class, especially developing new perspectives on how to approach situations in the world of business and ethics.”


  •  Business Ethics MOOC

    Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 3:10 PM

    Join 750 others registered for the Ethics Center’s free, "Massive Open Online Course," Business Ethics for the Real World, offered through  The four-week class, which can be taken any time before June 30, provides an introduction to the ethical issues confronting businesspeople.  It is appropriate for professionals, as well as undergraduate or graduate business students.
    Taught by Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson, the MOOC provides an understanding of the nature of ethics, the role ethics plays in business, and the most commonly encountered ethical dilemmas in a business career. It provides practical advice on how to identify ethical dilemmas when they arise, how to get enough information to assess one’s responsibilities, how to analyze a complex ethical choice, and how to marshal one’s own resources and courage to act ethically.
    While the course includes some ethical theory, it is designed to be approachable by the seasoned manager, the novice businessperson, and students in business schools. No specific background or preparation is necessary.  This introductory module will be followed by more advanced MOOCs beginning in 2014.
    Hanson is one of the pioneers of the business ethics field.  He holds the John Courtney Murray S.J. University Professorship of Social Ethics at SCU. In 2001, he took early retirement from Stanford University where he taught in the Graduate School of Business for 23 years and is now an emeritus faculty member.
    The editor of the four-volume series The Accountable Corporation, Hanson was the founding president of the Business Enterprise Trust, a national organization created by leaders in business, labor, media, and academia to promote exemplary behavior in business organizations.

  •  The Ethics of Online Price Discrimination

    Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 1:40 PM

    October 29, 2013  7 pm Wiegand Room

    In the world of online retail, some businesses are presenting different customers with different prices for the same goods, depending on factors such as the location of the customer, browsing history, etc. Some argue that this is unfair; others argue that it maximizes the efficiency of the whole system. This panel discussion will address the legal, economic, ethical, and technological aspects of the increasingly common practice of differential pricing online.


    • Eric Goldman, a Professor of Law at Santa Clara University and director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University
    • Kirthi Kalyanam, J.C. Penney Research Professor and director of the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University
    • Ashkan Soltani, independent researcher and affiliate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University.

    Sponsored by The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and The High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University.

    Live Tweet With Us! Follow @mcaenews #ethicsprice

  •  New LinkedIn Group on Startup Ethics

    Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013 11:35 AM

    Have you ever faced an ethical dilemma in a startup environment? Or, are you considering a new entrepreneurial business venture? We have a new LinkedIn Group for you! "The Ethical Startup" is an interactive Group launched this fall comprised of entrepreneurs, funders, and their colleagues, dedicated to identifying and developing best practices in entrepreneurship.

    Here's how it works: During this 7-week project, ethical dilemmas will be posted each Monday, with group discussion and a call for comments. Participants are asked to share their knowledge  and/or personal experience with these issues, with top contributors being honored online. After the project, the Ethics Center will use your feedback as the foundation for a definitive guide to startup ethics. Links to the group and each week's discussion will also be shared on The Ethic Center's Facebook and Twitter profiles in order to expand the online community members and outreach.

    Sample weekly topics for discussion include Board, Investor, and Customer Relations, Hiring Your First Employees, Organizing Your Team, Family Considerations, When to Quite and/or Cash In, and more.

    The project leads are Kirk O. Hanson, Executive Director of The Markkula Center, and Patrick Coutermarsh, the Center's first Fellow in Applied Ethics and a recent graduate of Santa Clara University.

  •  The Center Welcome James O'Toole

    Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2013 3:55 PM


    The Center is pleased to welcome James O'Toole, as senior fellow in business ethics. O'Toole will work with the Center's Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership and on projects related to leadership. Previously he was the Daniels Distinguished Professor of Business Ethics at the University of Denver's Daniels College of Business. While at the University of Southern California's business school for two decades, he held the University Associates' Chair of Management, served as Executive Director of the Leadership Institute, and was editor of New Management magazine. From 1994-97 O'Toole was Executive Vice President of the Aspen Institute, and later, Mortimer J. Adler Senior Fellow at the Institute. He also has served as Chair of the Booz/Allen/Hamilton Strategic Leadership Center.

    Among O'Toole's sixteen books, Vanguard Management was named "one of the best business and economics books of 1985" by the editors of Business Week. His latest book is Good Business (editor, with Don Mayer, 2010). He currently writes a bi-weekly blog for Strategy+Business magazine.

    O'Toole received his doctorate in Social Anthropology from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

  •  Nonprofits and Ethics Panel Aligns Mission, Morals, and Money

    Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 10:36 AM

    "Since they accept charitable gifts, nonprofits are increasingly in the spotlight and face greater scrutiny and accountability then ever before," agreed the presenters during the "Ethical Dilemmas and Nonprofits" panel held on August 20, and sponsored by The Markkula Ethics Center, AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals-Silicon Valley), and Focus Bank.

    Moderator Ervie Smith, representing Focus Business Bank, led panelists through a lively and informative series of ethical questions and scenarios commonly facing nonprofit communities, well received by the audience of 80 association leaders. Featured panelists were: Brian Adams, Bellarmine College Prep Christian Service Program; Judith Kleinberg, Knight Foundation; and Peter Hero, The Hero Group.

    One of the ethical scenarios involved the issue of "giving for a gift," a real life case study in which  a parent alumnus offers a donation to a school in return for his child's admission. "Any strings attached to a gift is a major red flag. In this scenario, simply do not accept the gift."

    Another scenario involved "interpretive" staff trips and expenses. For example, your job requires matching expense reports with receipts, and you find that while some staff were cautious and thrifty spenders, others took cabs, enjoyed room service, and helped themselves to the allure of the hotel "mini bar. "

    "First, there must be clear and  ironclad rules regarding business travel expenses detailed in the employee handbook, so that there is one standard for all staff," the panelists commented. "Second, confront those who did the gratuitous spending, offer them opportunity to explain, but make them accountable. They need to know there will be consequences to this behavior."

    Other highlights included:

    • Examples of ethical issues include: conflicts of interest, plagiarism, invasion of privacy, bias, and deceit or lack of transparency
    • Donors want nonprofits to succeed, and organizations should be transparent if they're facing financial stresses that challenge a grant's purpose
    • If a nonprofit is dishonest or fails to be transparent, its reputation is jeopardized
    • There is great importance in the donor-institution's all about relationships
    • Fundraising staff need to understand the mission of the organization and ultimately protect the brand
  •  Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership Highlights

    Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013 10:26 AM


    Pictured in photo are panelists from the ethics of working from home session: Kristin Major, Hewlett-Packard, Patty Woolcock, California Strategic Human Resrouce Partnership, Laura Maechtlen, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, and Eric Severson, Gap, Inc.

    The Ethics Center presented its quarterly "Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership" (BOEP) Roundtable on Thursday, August 22, providing attendees with plenty of food for thought on prominent issues in business ethics.

    After greetings and introductions by Jim Balassone, the Center's Executive-in-Residence, the morning agenda included the following program highlights: thought-provoking ethical case studies, presented by Jim O'Toole, Senior Fellow in Business Ethics; "Multitasking: The Short and Long-term Effects on Ethics and Business," presented by Clifford Nass, Professor of Communications, Stanford University; and "Economic, Ethical, and Legal Attributes of Working from Home," presented by Kristin Major, VP and Deputy GC, Hewlett-Packard, Eric Severson, SVP, HR, The Gap, and Laura Macctlen,  Sayfarth Shaw, moderated by Patty Woolcock, Executive Director, CSHRP.  Afternoon sessions included "You Can Make Money Without Doing Evil," presented by Andy Hinton, Ethics and Compliance Officer, Google; and "Transforming an Organization's Ethical Culture," presented by Greg Coplans, EVP Corporate Affairs,
    Hitachi Data Systems.

    Takeaways and soundbytes from two of the sessions, the ethical effects on multitasking and working from home, respectively, include:

    *Today, the average college student uses 3 forms of media at once.
    *For the past 20 years, studies have shown that multitasking impedes performance. focus, memory,  problem-solving ability, and social interaction
    *The 20-minute rule - meaning focusing on one task for at least that time, can help control the task management challenge.
    *The Gap Inc. makes for an interesting case study in ROWE (results-oriented work environment), which showed increased productivity, communication, and quality of work, after implementation.
    *Some of the challenges involved with allowing employees to work at home or from other locations, include increased and more formalized communications on work-related issues, such as email response time and equipment needs,
    and trained and active managers who can effectily oversee these scenarios.
    *In the near future, working from home will become increasingly commonplace, particularly with the continuing evolution  and sophistication of technology and communications.


  •  Ethical Dilemmas of Non-Profits: It May Be Legal, But...August 20 - 11:45-1:30

    Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 5:01 PM

    "Ethical Dilemmas of Non-Profits. It May Be Legal, But..."
    August 20, 2013 -- 11:45-1:30 pm


    Event guest speakers, clockwise from left: Moderator Ervie Smith, Focus Business Bank, and Panelists Brian Adams, Bellarmine College Prep, Judith Kleinberg, The Knight Foundation, and Peter Hero, The Hero Group.

    Join distinguished panelists Peter Hero, The Hero Group, Brian Adams, Bellarmine College Prep, Judith Kleinberg, The Knight Foundation, and moderator Ervie Smith, Focus Business Bank, as they discuss 21st century ethical issues that can affect fundraising and your organization's reputation. Come prepared with your own questions for discussion, and become part of this interactive panel.



    *Presented by AFP Silicon Valley Chapter, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and Focus Business Bank

    *Buffet Luncheon and Parking Fee included.

    *Parking passes will be available at the Santa Clara University Main Kiosk, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA.

    *Price: $30 preregistered, $40 on-site

    Lucas Hall, Forbes Family Conference Center

  •  Irina Raicu, Manager of Internet Ethics, Calls for More Women in Tech in MarketWatch Commentary

    Thursday, Jun. 20, 2013 10:47 AM

    Irina Raicu, the Center's Manager of Internet Ethics, recently published “Powering the Search for More Women in Tech.” Her article uses Google's Keynote Address, presented by Larry Page at its recent "I/0 2013 Developer's Conference," as a platform to explore the ongoing challenge of recruiting and retaining women into technology fields. It also suggests that the U.S. learn best practices from China, India, Russia, and Eastern European countries, which continuously produce higher numbers of engineers than the U.S.  Despite Google's efforts to offer internships, scholarships, and other incentive programs for women, Page's admission at I/0 2013 that he and Sergey Brin had been working on this “particular problem forever,” highlights the long road ahead for recruiting women into tech, as well as the need to end sexism and gender stereotypes.


  •  Sacred Texts in Business Ethics

    Thursday, Apr. 25, 2013 2:00 PM

    Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson spoke to a colloquium convened by Santa Clara University's Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education on April 18, 2013. He was asked to identify the five "sacred texts" of business ethics, documents which capture the highest ideals and values to be pursued by business ethics. Read his choices.