Skip to main content
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Leadership Ethics

At the Ethics Center, we know that tone at the top often determines the ethical culture of an organization.

We work with CEOs, members of boards, and government officials to establish best practices in leadership ethics. This year, we piloted a new program, Standards for Excellence, aimed at social sector leaders.

Chris Wilder

Chris Wilder knows the social sector, which includes the more than 1.4 million nonprofit organizations registered in the United States.

Now CEO of Valley Medical Center Foundation, Wilder was also executive director of the educational support program City Year, ran a national organization for missing children, and worked in consumer and environmental protection.

He’s learned that all organizations in the sector share a set of ethical challenges around fundraising, advocacy, governance, and other issues. But until recently, he was singularly unimpressed with the ethical training available for nonprofit leaders. “Most trainings offer lists of made-up examples,” he says. “They’re totally rules-based and not particularly deep.”

Then Wilder participated in the pilot of the Ethics Center’s new Standards for Excellence workshops this summer. The Center is a replication partner of the respected Standards for Excellence Institute, which raises the level of accountability, transparency, and effectiveness of nonprofit organizations. The Center weaves its own “Framework for Ethical Decision Making” into the training, showing how organizations can work through a variety of ethical approaches to arrive at decisions that reflect their mission and values.

Wilder was so enthusiastic about the program that he, his board, and staff have decided to seek full Standards for Excellence accreditation. “We know it will be hard work,” he says, “but we’re all really eager to get started.”

Joan Barram and Padma Gargaya

Joan Barram and Padma Gargaya of Mentor Tutor Connection at the Standards for Excellence Training.

More Stories on Leadership Ethics

Mike Schroeder, vice president for Human Resources at View/Dynamic Glass, belives you can’t talk about leadership in business—or really in any arena—without talking about ethics.

Center Programs in Leadership Ethics

Through our Partners in Business Ethics, the Center engages with business leaders around emerging issues such as diversity in Silicon Valley.

Benison, one of the Center’s blogs, focuses on the practice of ethical leadership.

Center staff provide thought leadership  in many areas, commenting regularly for media across the country and around the world.