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Creating an Ethical Corporate Culture

Thursday, Mar. 13, 2014

You are responsible for the ethical culture of your business organization.

That’s the message of a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in business ethics taught by Kirk O. Hanson, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. “Yes,” Hanson says, “the C-suite executives and the Board of Directors may set the ethical tone of a company, but every person in an organization, particularly managers and supervisors, has a role in strengthening the ethical culture. How managers and supervisors fulfill this responsibility is the subject of this course.”

The free MOOC, Creating an Ethical Corporate Culture, offers:

  • four key approaches to building an ethical organization
  • 10 tools for shaping the culture and keeping it strong
  • how to anticipate and manage unavoidable challenges to an ethical culture
  • the proven link between ethics, corporate culture, and business performance

Hanson, a pioneer in the business ethics field, taught for 23 years at the Stanford Graduate School of Business before taking on the directorship of the Markkula Ethics Center. He designed this MOOC for working businesspeople so that they can take the course at their own pace. It deals with the responsibilities of line managers, executives, and directors.

Students can enter the course any time before June 30. It is organized to take no more than 2-3 hours per week, and to be completed in four weeks. Those who do all of the assignments receive a letter of completion from the Ethics Center.

The course is the second MOOC on business ethics offered by the Center. The first, Business Ethics for the Real World, provides an introduction to ethical decision making. More than 1,700 people registered for that course, which remains open until June 30.

“One of the most exciting things about MOOCs,” Hanson says, “is the incredible diversity of voices among those who participate. In our first MOOC, we had registrants from 133 different countries including Congo, Vietnam, the Maldives, and Yemen. People come from a wide variety of different industries and they bring these perspectives to course discussions.”

The courses are meeting the needs of people who might not otherwise have been able to take such a class. As one graduate of Business Ethics for the Real World said, “I took the first course and really enjoyed it, and so I enrolled in the next course. I hope to learn as I did in the first class, especially developing new perspectives on how to approach situations in the world of business and ethics.”