Stephan Rothlin, SJ, secretary general of the Center for International Business Ethics in Beijing, gives a qualified yes to the question, "Can a Western company use its existing business ethics code in China?" Talking with Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson, Rothlin talks about how codes need to be adapted for the Chinese environment.
Kirk Hanson, Center executive director, reviews cases that defne" why business ethics and corporate responsibility need to be a constant concern" in an article that appeared in Entrepreneur's Foundation newsletter.
Focusing on BP and the oil spill, Hanson suggests four lessons from the crisis:
1) Corporations must invest adequately in safety.
2) Corporations must take very low probability/very big impact events more seriously.
3) The management of incentives and rewards is central to any control system. Companies cannot preach safety but reward only cost cutting.
4) Companies entering into partnerships must be clear about who is responsible for safety.
What is the ethical way to manage risk that may be small but that may have catastropic consequences? The Center's Emerging Issues group discussed that dilemma with Bill Sundstrom, professor of economics at SCU.(podcast) Sundstrom drew parallels between the oil spill and the financial meltdown in terms of risk management and led the discussion on whether regulation, insurance, or some other method would be the best approach to the problem. Sundstrom has taught on economics and the environment and is currently an associate provost at the University.
In his talk this week on "Civility in a Fractured Society," Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, defined civility as the willingness to engage with others and to listen to other points of view. Civility breaks down, he said, when we define the people who disagree with us as enemies rather than holders of rival ideas. In Leach's view, argument itself is a social good, and he offered several ideas about how to foster civil discourse on controversial issues.
National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Jim Leach speaks Tuesday, April 6, on "Civility in a Fractured Society." A former Republican congressman from Iowa, Leach is touring the country to advance "an ethic of thoughtfulness rather than conformity of thought, decency of expression rather than coarseness in public manners."
Philosopher Robert Audi will address the ethical dimensions of informed consent at a presentation for the Ethics Center, April 5 at noon. Audi, who has been a frequent visiting scholar at the Center, is the David E. Gallo Professor of Business Ethics at the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame University. He is the author of 13 books, among them The Good in the Right and the recent Business Ethics and Ethical Business.
From a definition of insider trading to scenarios about the problem this white paper, presented to the Center's Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership, gives an overview of what the SEC is doing to monitor the practice and what businesses can do to prevent it.
On the ethics of the issue, co-author Bahram Seyedin-Noor, partner at Wilson Sonsini,comments:
"That a trade is legal does not necessarily make it ethical. The ethical principle is easy to understand because the principle tenet of our securities market is that no trader should have an unfair advantage when trading. When a trader has material non-public inside information, and he or she trades with someone who doesn't, it seems to many to be unfair on its face."
Hollis O'Brien, former corporate vice president, secretary, and chief governance officer of AMD also contributed to the presentation.
As interest grows in the possibility of addressing poverty by business activity at "the bottom of the pyramid," social entrepreneurs confront a set of ethical questions about marketing to these impoverished market segments.
Center Visiting Scholar Nicholas Santos, SJ, provided a framework for looking at this issue in a presentation last week with SCU Professor of Management Dennis Moberg. Here is his list of promises and threats:
Promise of inclusive capitalism
Including those kept at the periphery of development
Increase in employment opportunities
Better standard of living
Threat of increased exploitation
Unconscionable labor practices
Exorbitant rent-to-own transactions
Vulnerabilities of the BoP consumers
Desire of BoP consumers for better quality products and improved quality of life
Marketing strategy for impoverished market segments will be the focus of a presentation by Dennis Moberg, Gerald and Bonita Wilkinson Chair of Management and Ethics at SCU, and Nicholas Santos, S.J., visiting scholar at the Ethics Center, Wednesday, Feb. 24, at noon.