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Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership Highlights

Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013


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.