Maintaining independence and avoiding conflicts of interest at the board level is a significant challenge, says Daniel Cooperman, Of Counsel with the Bingham McCutchen law firm. Cooperman served as senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of Apple Inc. and senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary of Oracle Corp. He is the immediate past President of the Association of General Counsels, served on the board of several software trade associations, is a director of emerging technology companies, and teaches at Stanford Law School.
In this four-part video conversation with Kirk Hanson, executive director at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Cooperman details the duties and responsibilities of corporate board members to establish and protect their independence, and the importance of avoiding actual and perceived conflicts of interest. The two explore both the legal and ethical requirements of public board members in a complex and inter-related world.
Vice Chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery Sam Glasscock III spoke to the Center's Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership (BOEP) yesterday about the history and meaning of a chancery court and the kind of issues the court is currently hearing.
Other speakers at the BOEP's quarterly meeting included Joe Grundfest, former SEC commissioner and professor at Stanford Law School on "The Nexus of the Law and Ethics," and Bob Vanourek, former CEO of Sensormatic, on "Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations."
Hank Shea, a former Department of Justice Attorney who brings white collar felons to universities across the country, gave a presentation with David Logan, a former CEO and public official whom Shea prosecuted for bank fraud.
The BOEP meets quarterly to address emerging issues in business ethics. Contact Jim Balassone for more information.
Santa Clara University joins the world of open online education with the premiere of a business ethics course exploring the common and difficult decisions that confront professionals. This course will explore such daily dilemmas as pressure from management to falsify reports, resume white lies, and bullying rivals to get ahead.
Partnering with the new Instructure open online platform Canvas Network, Kirk O. Hanson, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at SCU, will teach “Business Ethics for the Real World.” The network is another outlet for the growing popularity of Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs. The idea is anyone with Internet access can enroll in courses taught by some of the brightest minds in the world.
“We look forward to pioneering the MOOC concept both for Santa Clara and for the topic of business ethics,” says Hanson. “We can give the public a feel for the quality of education Santa Clara University students receive every day. We’re also thrilled the ethical framework we developed at the Markkula Center will be highlighted.”
While MOOCs have primarily focused on math and science, “Business Ethics for the Real World” will explore the role of ethics in business and offer practical advice on making decisions in the work place.
“This course is more than a standard lesson in business. It is driven by what we have learned from tackling real ethical issues with Silicon Valley companies. Anyone from San Jose to Shanghai can participate in the ethical dialogue taking place in Silicon Valley,” says Hanson.
While the course includes some ethical theory, it is designed to be approachable by anyone from the seasoned manager to someone just beginning their career. The course is the first of several being planned at Santa Clara. Future MOOC’s will address areas of SCU’s special expertise, including social entrepreneurship.
Enrollment will be limited to 500 people for the pilot course running Feb. 25 to March 25. The University and Instructure are hoping to launch classes with unlimited enrollment after the pilot. Ten other schools, including Brown University, are participating in the initial course offering. Enrollment is open now on Canvas.net.
Experts from the SEC, the law firm of Morrison & Foerster, and the Ethics Center discuss cutting edge issues in global anti-corruption and compliance at a seminar Oct. 10, noon-2 p.m., at the Sheraton Palo Alto Hotel.
Our panel will discuss the legal, ethical, and business challenges faced by Silicon Valley companies with global operations and provide practical advice for conducting a global risk assessment and implementing effective anti-corruption programs. The discussion will include a case study highlighting the issues surrounding the detection, investigation, penalties and reputational damage from an FCPA violation.
Corporate directors can take action to prevent or abate major ethical meltdowns at their companies by being alert to red flags that show an organization is in trouble. In a joint program this month with the National Association of Corporate Directors, Silicon Valley, the Ethics Center offered a panel discussion on eight signs that a company may be headed for ethical meltdown.
Panelists included Katie Martin, partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Vince Vannelli, founder of KPG Ventures, Skip Battle, chairman of Fair Isaac and Co., and Jim Balassone, executive-in-residence at the Ethics Center. Their presentation was informed by the work of Marianne Jennings.
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson was named a "Master Teacher in Ethics" by the Society for Business Ethics and the Wheatley Institution at Brigham Young University.
The honor came at the conference "Teaching Ethics: Master Class in Business Ethics" held May 22-24, 2012, in Provo, Utah. At the conference, each of six master teachers presented one of their favorite class sessions. Hanson’s session covered the definition of ethics, a summary of five basic approaches to ethics, and a list of 20 unavoidable ethical dilemmas in a business career.
Other honorees included Joshua Margolis, Harvard Business School; Daylian Cain, Yale School of Management; and Andy Wicks, Darden School.
"The [Yahoo] board really is boxed into a corner," Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson told the Associated Press about whether the company should fire CEO Scott Thompson because of an inaccuracy on his resume. "If this individual is prone to exaggeration or excessive claims, they have to be worried it might happen again down the road. They also have to ask themselves, 'Can this leader serve as a moral example or moral leader for our company?' Behavior rolls downhill. If the CEO exaggerates a little, then others in the organization will exaggerate a lot."
Hanson was widely quoted on the resume padding scandal. A complete list of Hanson's comments on the issue is here.
Like humans, companies need both a heart and a soul, says Richard Levy, chairman of Varian Medical Systems. The heart keeps the human and the company alive and functioning, but that, in itself, isn't enough. The soul, which gives meaning to human life, focuses the attention of a company—its management and its board-- beyond simply making money to doing something to promote the common good.
In three video conversations with James Balassone, executive-in-residence at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Levy details the duties and responsibilities of corporate boards: first and foremost, to look after the interests of shareholders, oversee financial performance and compliance, weigh in on strategy when necessary, understand risks, and evaluate, compensate and hire and fire the CEO and other senior managers. He also discusses how to promote healthy relationships between boards and senior management and clearly defines what should take place in an effective board meeting.