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.
In response to yesterday's protest by Occupy San Francisco at Wells Fargo's annual meeting, Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson spoke with KQED's Cy Musiker about the movement and about the responsibility of banks to homeowners in the wake of the country's economic meltdown.
"The bank benefited greatly from the bailout," Hanson said. "It did pay the money back, but one would expect that in response to that, they ought to do whatever they can to soften the blow on those individuals who got these mortgages and who are in foreclosure or who are suffering because of the continuing stream of payments."
Directors of publicly traded companies can be held legally accountable for three types of activities:
- Mistakes, for which they may face civil penalties
- Outright wrongdoing, for which they may face criminal penalties
- Willful blindness—ignoring red flags signaling fraud—for which they may face civil or criminal penalties
Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson talks with former federal prosecutor Hank Shea about how boards of directors can stay out of trouble. Shea is a senior distinguished fellow at University of St. Thomas School of Law and visiting professor at University of Arizona School of Law.
Pat Gnazzo, ethics and compliance officer for companies including United Technologies and Computer Associates, talks with Kirk Hanson, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics about the distinctions between ethics and compliance. The interview followed Gnazzo's presentation at the Center's Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership, a group of business ethics faculty and executives in charge of ethics and compliance for their companies. Compliance, Gnazzo argues, is based on a set of rules, regulations, and laws. Ethics and values are based on a set of standards the company imposes on itself.
About one million corporations have their legal headquarters in the state of Delaware, including more than half of the Fortune 500. In "Why Corporations Choose Delaware," corporate lawyer Lewis S. Black writes, "I think the answer is not one thing but a number of things. It includes the Delaware General Corporation Law which is one of the most advanced and flexible corporation statutes in the nation. It includes the Delaware courts and, in particular, Delaware's highly respected corporations court, the Court of Chancery."
The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, in cooperation with the SCU School of Law and several local law firms, has brought several members of the Delaware courts to campus as Distinguished Visiting Scholars to explore the intersection between corporate law and ethics. This series of videos captures highlights from those visits.
The job of maintaining the values of a company is not the responsibility of any one department or individual; everyone—officers and board, executives, managers, supervisors, and individual contributors—has a role in fostering ethical behavior.
The Center's Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership has invited a series of speakers who represent many of the groups that have an impact on the company's ethical culture. Video conversations with those speakers are now available in one place.
The impact of health care reform on hospitals was the focus of a presentation by Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson to the 2012 Premier Governance Education Conference held Jan. 30 - Feb. 1 in Miami Beach.
Hanson focused on the ethical implications of reform for hospitals as business organizations. Among the considerations he addressed were:
Clear organizational ethics goals – ethical behavior toward all stakeholders; honest reporting; control unethical behavior
Concern for Conflicts of Interest
Greater responsibility for competence and integrity of staff and partners
Adequate policies and procedures to manage incentives to violate
Concern for understanding and adherence to ethical norms throughout organization