Santa Clara University

Markkual Center for Applied Ethics

Building an Ethical Culture: The Role of the Board

The board of directors of a corporation is involved in strategy and monitoring the progress of initiatives critical to the company. They also have a role in assessing, maintaining, and improving the organization’s ethical culture.

Michael L. Hackworth has a 45-year career in the high tech industry, including nearly 20 years of serving on public and private company boards. He is the chair of the Ethics Center's Advisory Board.  In these videos, he talks with Lon Allan, chairman of the National Association of Corporate Directors-Silicon Valley (SVNACD) about the board’s role in building an ethical culture.

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Part 1—Overview and Background (video)

  1. What is ethics and why is it important?—a few practical definitions
  2. Criteria for business decisions—adding "Is it Ethical?" to the basic three
  3. The board’s role in a corporation—perspectives from a long-serving director
  4. The board’s role in ethical culture—positive or negative? There is no middle ground
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Part 2—Getting Practical (video)

  1. The board’s role in corporate ethics—it starts (or doesn’t start) here!
  2. Ethics vs. optimizing the bottom line— "pay me now or pay me later"
  3. Reflecting on 20 Years of corporate boards—a scorecard of CEO performance
  4. The board and ethics: conclusion

Hackworth currently serves as chairman of the board of Cirrus Logic, Inc, and serves on the board of directors of Virage Logic Corp. and Epicor Software. He also serves on several private chip and EDA company boards.

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and SVNACD have been engaged in several joint ventures to explore ethical issues in corporate governance.

For other videos in the series, see:

The Role of the Corporate Board—Richard Levy
Effective Boards—Robert Finocchio