Business Ethics: What is a Leader to do?

Though the corporate mismanagement, corruption, and accounting scandals at big public companies like Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Adelphia, Health South, and Arthur Andersen that resulted in the creation of Sarbanes-Oxley Practices for Good Corporate Governance may seem like bad memories from the past, the crisis of ethics is far from over. Unethical business practices are on the rise according to the Ernst & Young’s 2012 Global Fraud Survey. Also very troubling to me is that the survey showed that tolerance for unethical conduct had increased over the previous two years. Almost half (47%) of the chief financial officers surveyed felt they could justify potentially unethical practices to help business survive during an economic downturn. Perhaps these executives feel that highly ethical standards and behavior are just for the good times and inconvenient or completely dispensable during difficult or challenging times. Or perhaps executive leaders intend for their organizations to be ethical but are blind to the ways unethical behaviors can be condoned or even encouraged by behaviors and practices in routine use throughout their companies.

Even when there is every intention of conducting business in an ethical manner, there are many barriers and pitfalls for leaders to identify and overcome. Legislation, mandated policies, guidelines and training are clearly necessary elements for an ethical business environment but since unethical behavior continue to occur even when these are in place, more is required of those who are committed to an ethical workplace.

There are many questions to explore on the topic of business ethics and role of leaders. Questions like:

  • What are the challenges leaders face in establishing and maintaining a culture of high ethics?
  • What can ethical leaders do when working in an organization of neutral or even low ethics?
  • How do we create the conditions for ethical leadership to overcome an ethically starved environment or even rise above an ethically neutral landscape?
  • In a workplace of business environment where there isn’t any emphasis on high standards and ethics, how does a leader create a moral compass or ethical guidelines from which to operate?
  • What are the key elements or pillars of character necessary for an ethical leader to have?

Please join us on Friday, January 29th for wide-ranging discussion on leadership and business ethics. Please register online and encourage others who would enjoy the discussion to attend as well. All are welcome.

Please note: This is a “brown bag” event, and it is recommended that participants bring their lunch to eat during the roundtable. We’ll also have beverages and snacks to share. The Women’s Leadership Roundtable is a facilitated open forum for women, as leaders of themselves and others, to discuss relevant issues, build community and network, collaborate with, learn from, and support one another. It provides an opportunity for women to share their experiences, engage in thought-provoking discussion, and to generate ideas and growth together. The roundtable is an ongoing event, open to the public, held on the 3rd Friday of the month from January through October in a Denver area location. You are encouraged to attend as frequently as possible and bring your ideas, issues, and interests to the discussion. There is a $10 charge for the roundtable, paid in advance when registering online, and a $12 charge when paid at the door. A discounted rate is available for those wishing to register for an entire year of roundtables. For additional information contact Karen McGee at 303 503-9681.


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