The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics is committed to fulfilling its vision: To empower people and organizations to make better decisions for a more caring world. Part of this commitment is serving as a resource for organizations through the Consulting Services branch of the Ethics Center. Thor Wasbotten, Managing Director of the Ethics Center, says this work is designed to help organizations with their ethical decision-making, which Wasbotten says is part of what makes the Ethics Center an “indispensable resource.”
The Ethics Center’s consulting services are provided to a wide variety of organizations, including corporations, non-profits, government entities, and more. While the Ethics Center provides free resources online, Wasbotten says consultation work is designed for those companies that want a customized approach to their situation or to “pull back the curtain” on their ethical frameworks and practices. By working closely with these companies, the Ethics Center is able to produce materials, develop workshops, and create frameworks that can target the specific needs of the organization in question. Some of these organizations that the Ethics Center has worked with in the past? Think Google X, Deloitte, MojoVision, and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. In total, the Ethics Center has worked with more than 30 organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies.
When a company approaches the Ethics Center looking for ethical consultation work, it tends to come from someone responsible for ethics, compliance, or responsible decision-making. As Wasbotten tells it, “Every single person we engage with has a level of authority that allows them to make decisions,” which is important if the work that the Ethics Center provides is to enact real change within a company culture. The Ethics Center has gained many of its clients through repeat customers and referrals, which Wasbotten attributes to the fact that “our people are experts in understanding how ethical decision-making is applied in practice, and external organizations see that as a significant value proposition.”
When Deloitte began meeting with the Ethics Center about ethics consultation, for example, discussions began with Deloitte’s Head of Ethical Technology. From there, the needs of the company were understood and the Ethics Center began developing tools to help Deloitte in their needs. Over the course of four years, the Ethics Center and Deloitte created a Deloitte-specific model of the Ethics Center's framework for ethical decision-making, reviewed the measurement system designed to maintain an ethical culture, and created internal ethical training resources that have since been used by over 60,000 people. All of this work was personalized and created in collaboration with Deloitte in order to address their needs specifically.
One major strength of the Center’s work is its ability to customize resources and tools to fit the client in question best, something that clients look for when they come to the Ethics Center for help. The Ethics Center, says Wasbotten, “knows that every organization is different and might be at a different stage in their journey to building a culture of responsibility.” Aside from the Ethics Center’s global expertise in applied ethics and responsibility, the Ethics Center also understands business practices and the challenges that organizations face. Wasbotten emphasizes that the Ethics Center’s pro-ethics mission can and is aligned with pro-business practices. “Business and ethics are not mutually exclusive,” he says.
Learn more about the Ethics Center’s consultative service offerings and hear testimonials from clients across multiple industries by exploring our website. For further questions or to discuss a possible engagement, contact Thor Wasbotten at email@example.com
Lucas Bush ’23, political science and ethnic studies major and a marketing and communications intern with the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, contributed to this story.