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Making Ethics Rules Stick - Essay Example

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Making Ethics Rules Stick

Often, employees know the rules but run into ethical problems when they try to circumvent them. A company's standard for ethical enforcement is the most important factor. He quotes Noah Pickus, associate director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, who asserts "Institutions have ethical cultures. Individuals are shaped by, and respond to, those cultures. Rules are always important, but more important is how those rules are aligned with what people 'know' about what the institution allows or encourages" (para. 10).
The key for ethical improvement in any corporation is to establish a strong connection between the ethics rules and the corporate culture. Raspberry goes on to quote Pickus: "If a corporation is serious about ethical standards, it will show up not just in rules but in performance reviews -- in the entire culture of the place . . . what does it say when the people who have gone to jail for various kinds of fraud were, before their convictions, systematically promoted by their companies" Essentially, promoting strong ethics requires a sound ethical structure that acts as a foundation for the entire culture of the organization. ...
The article maintains that a more ethical approach to ethics training would be to embrace it for the right reasons - a real desire to instill an ethical mindset and standard of behavior throughout the organization. While there is certainly some benefit to reinforcing the rules, it has little effect on the long term ethical state of an organization unless those rules are connected with the values that govern the day-to-day activities and transactions of the business. The question posed by the article is whether it can be considered ethical for a company to provide ethics training in order to protect itself from potential legal problems down the road.
Ethical Approaches
Under the various goal based and duty based ethical approaches to analyzing the issue posed by the Raspberry article, it would be difficult to maintain that the recent explosion of ethics training among American companies is ethical. Neither the training itself nor the effect of the training is necessarily a good thing from a long-term perspective if it is undertaken in a half-hearted way that is not supported by the overall culture of the organization, and designed solely to cover the posterior of the corporate executives who decide to implement the training. A deontological assessment of the act itself would require that it be an inherently good thing to do, which it would be if it were done for the right reasons. On the other hand, a teleological assessment of the repercussions of the act would require that it produce a positive outcome, which it would if it were carried through in the organizational culture. Neither is the case here, and thus these ethical approaches require ...Show more

Summary

In his article "Making Ethics Rules Stick," William Raspberry (2005) discusses the evolution and effectiveness of post-Sarbanes Oxley ethics training in American corporations. He maintains that the recent explosion of formal ethics training programs has little to do with a real desire among corporate executives to foster meaningful improvement in ethical behavior among their employees…
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