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Ethics Priorities for 2017: Banish the Binary

2016 was a year of landmark ethics challenges. The year closed with an unprecedented Presidential-scale conflicts of interest quagmire and alleged cyber interference with the US election. Along the way, landmark “in or out” binary decisions such as Brexit left divisiveness, uncertainty, and waste in their wake. Looking forward to in 2017, we should focus on one element of ethical decision-making: banishing the binary. (more…)

Interim Government: Pakistan Inspires

About 18 months ago at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2012 I had the good fortune to walk out of a lunch meeting on global health issues with Dr. Sania Nishtar, most recently Caretaker Federal Minister in Pakistan’s interim government and Founder of the internationally renowned health NGO Heartfile. My admiration for her at the time pales in comparison to what I have had the privilege of witnessing these past two months.  (more…)

Untangling the Confusion Over Organizational Ethics

This article was first published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review (Summer 2013).  A wave of ethics transgressions underlines the importance of comprehensive ethics oversight for organizational success. Last year, 2012, was in many regards a step forward for proponents of ethical action. Roger Gifford, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, one of the world’s financial capitals, declared business ethics a priority and critical to the City’s economic success. François Hollande published a Code of Ethics within 11 days of becoming president of France. And the new Chinese premier, Xi Jinping, highlighted the ongoing danger of corruption to economic and social development as a central part...

Missing the Point: Lessons From Novartis: Shareholders Win the Compensation Revolt but Lose the Ethics Revolution

The actions and commentary surrounding the recent shareholder revolt over the proposed $78 million payment to departing Novartis Chairman Daniel Vasella offer a range of ethics and governance lessons. These are critical across all sectors from corporate to non-profit to governmental. My purpose is never to attack an individual leader, an organization, or commentators. My intent here is learning, especially as it seems inconceivable that this kind of situation could continue to occur following the relentless say on pay and other ethics events of 2012. (more…)

Pressure Points

Recent press reminds us that in addition to systemic unethical behavior (African dictators siphoning oil revenue or tax evasion networks), more specific pressure points create enormous and contagious ethical challenges. Whether reporting quarterly revenue at 11:59 pm on the last day of the expecting a signed contract the next morning, a weakness in processing bank transfers involving Iran, or failure to react vigorously to governmental threats to withdraw business privileges unless a Swiss bank account balance rises, pressure points should be a key element of ethics oversight for every board and senior management team. (more…)

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