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Cases in Business Ethics

Preparing SCU students for the ethical challenges of a career in business and fostering a broad community of ethical support both on campus and in the working world. These cases were written by Santa Clara University seniors Alexis Babb, Saayeli Mukherji, Amanda Nelson, and Noah Rickling as part of their work as Hackworth Fellows in Business Ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

The following postings have been filtered by tag Finance. clear filter
  •  Financial Reporting: Do Small Errors Need to be Reported?

    Ben is a recent Santa Clara University graduate who has just started his first job in the finance department of a publicly traded Silicon Valley company. One of his main responsibilities is to create and distribute extensive Microsoft Excel reports that analyze costs and revenues for different divisions. Ben sends completed reports to his direct supervisor and the CFO. The CFO then uses the information to create the company's financial reports, in addition to the strategy and forecasting formulation.

    While Ben considers himself to be detailed-oriented, the complicated nature of and the sheer volume of data sometimes overwhelm him, which is exacerbated by their strict deadlines. While Ben works hard to prepare the reports as accurately as possible, he often finds errors after he has submitted his final report. When the errors are critical, he revises the reports and resends them. However, some of the errors are minor, in Ben's estimation, and he doubts that the CFO will use or look at these figures. Ben is ambitious and wants to be promoted, but worries that if he frequently sends out revised reports he will appear unreliable and unqualified. At the same time, the potential consequences from inaccurate financial reports put the company, the CFO and CEO, and Ben himself at risk.

    What actions should Ben take when he catches a mistake? Is he obligated to report every error, particularly since he works for a publicly traded company? Is there such a thing as a small error in this context?

    Posted June 2013

  •  Job Promotion: At What Cost?

    Dan is an up-and-coming district manager at Tradewell Bank, one of the largest commercial banks in the country. Dan reports directly to Robert, the regional manager, who also happens to be a close friend from high school. Robert has been at the company longer than Dan, but there is some talk within the company that his region's numbers have been falling behind.

    One afternoon, the bank's VP of Sales offers Dan a promotion to regional manager—Robert's job. To his dismay, Dan is told that Robert has not been similarly promoted, and instead Dan would be replacing Robert outright.

    Dan's been working ridiculous hours in surpassing expectations for his district, and certainly feels deserving of the promotion, but replacing his friend is the last thing he wants to do.

    What should Dan do?

    Posted June 2013