Professor Susan Samuelson Addresses Business Ethics for CNN International

in Markets, Public Policy & Law, Social Impact
November 3rd, 2010

SamuelsonSusanBoston University School of Management’s Susan Samuelson, professor of Business Law and faculty director of the School’s top-ranked Executive MBA Program, has written for CNN International about how ethical behavior needs to start at the top of an organization.

In her piece “Telling right from wrong starts at the top” (published October 22, 2010), she writes,

“Managers say they want their employees to behave ethically. Yet corporate scandals occur with all the regularity of the seasons….

“Many execs have never had an ethics discussion at work that dealt with the kinds of issues they faced on a day-to-day basis. Nothing, zipola, nada.”

“[W]here do people learn about ethics? Some of the executives I teach had ethics training as children — usually from a religious institution. But most of them said that they had never thought about ethics before. Sure, their company had a vision statement, but that was some high-faluting language that meant nothing on a day-to-day basis. By and large, they had never had an ethics discussion at work that dealt with the kinds of issues they faced on a day-to-day basis. Nothing, zipola, nada…..

“What can managers do to promote ethics? Give examples, make suggestions…publicly reward ethical behavior, punish the opposite.”

“What can managers do to promote ethical decisions in the workplace? Behaving ethically yourselves is a good start. Have ethics discussions with employees. Give examples, make suggestions as to how employees should handle these incidents. Explicitly, publicly reward ethical behavior, punish the opposite. Make it clear that ethical behavior is more important than good results. If that is not true at your company, then don’t be surprised when you’re dealing with a painful and public scandal.”

Read Professor Samuelson’s full commentary at CNN International.