South-Western - Management  
Study Aims to Reach Top Executives Who Are out of Touch on Business Ethics
Topic Ethics and Social Responsibility
Key Words Business ethics, integrity
InfoTrac Reference CJ126078577
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News Story 

The Center for Ethical Business Cultures at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis has developed an integrity study to help senior executives assess the ethical environment within their organizations. The survey consists of 28 questions that are designed to give a candid picture of how the average employee perceives the company's ethics. The survey also has an integrity checklist which employees can use to assess their performance and decisions.

The study is an important tool because many senior leaders think the ethical climate at their organizations is better than it really is. Gantz Wiley Research's Work Trends 2004 report shows that 71 percent of senior executives believe their companies act ethically, compared with 61 percent of supervisors and only 43 percent of front-line workers. Marc Lampe, a professor of business ethics at the University of San Diego says that human beings often rationalize behavior, tricking themselves into believing they are ethical all the time when they might not be. Lampe believes to be effective, ethics must be more than just a printed slogan on the wall. To foster an ethical environment, executives must be committed to ethical behavior, educated in it, and hire only people who share the company's ethics. Leaders have the burden of setting standards, enthusiastically promoting them, and adhering to what they preach.


The article states that senior leaders often think the ethical climate within their organization is better than it really is. Why is this true?


Do a search of some larger companies on the Internet to find their ethics or "Values" statements. Choose one company and write a paragraph summarizing the company's key beliefs. If you were an executive at the company you have chosen, what must you do to ensure that these beliefs are practiced throughout the company?

Source "Study Aims to Reach Top Executives Who Are out of Touch on Business Ethics," Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News, Dec. 11, 2004, pITEM04346015.
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