Dear Ethix – Issue 24

Eight, Nine, & Ten Online

Are the Eight Traits of a Healthy Organizational Culture online?
Pat Gray
Miami Shores, FL

Editor’s Note: The “Eight Traits” along with the “Nine Reasons” and “Ten Principles” are posted under “Tools” at

Ten Principles

My small, boutique consulting business and its practices are squarely rooted in leadership development, performance management and knowledge creation/knowledge sharing, all of which are highly dependant on a culture guided by ethical principles. I am always amazed at the refreshed reaction we get from prospective customers when we discuss these issues and how ethical behavior adds to the profitability of their outfit.

One more to add to your list of 10 principles of highly ethical companies: ”SHARE INFORMATION and encourage collaborative, innovative, risk-taking, learning environments!”
Marilyn Brown
Founder and Partner
Murphy Brown Management Consulting

Editors’ Note: We agree — but include it as one of our “Eight traits of a healthy organizational culture.”

Wisdom Management

I found your article “Wisdom management” (Benchmark Ethics, May-June 2002) to be very interesting and thought provoking. A few years ago, I suggested (in a paper published in Technological Forecasting and Social Change) that the evolution of contemporary information and knowledge systems will lead to creation of another level called “wisdom systems.” I am glad to see that your idea is developed along a similar concept. I intend to introduce the subject in one of my seminars here at Michigan Tech.
Karol Pelc
Professor of Technology Management
School of Business and Economics
Michigan Technological University
Houghton, MI

Collaboration and Nine Reasons

Thanks a million for Ethix magazine. Our organization, Nicholas Institute for Policy and Strategic Leadership is finding the material very insightful. We believe that the practice of ethics is one major trend missing in Africa and should be encouraged to come alive. We want to raise up people who will sustain ethical principles and conduct in their workplace. We feel strongly that a networking relationship with IBTE will be vital in order to make the desired impact.

It is morally right for companies to be ethical knowing that the whole block of wrong will by and large be reaped by the sower. The “Nine Good Reasons” is excellent and down to root and should be useable by any one or group of people. It is good and I am applying same to my organization.
Rev. Mark Anthony Ibekwe
Lagos, Nigeria

Nine Reasons

Re: nine reasons: academic research strongly supports the fact that good corporate citizens, companies that make their code of conduct an important part of their business tactics, have better performance than those who do not.
Dr. Curtis C. Verschoor
DePaul University, Chicago, IL

Editors’ Note: We agree with you and recommend your articles “Corporate Performance is Closely Linked to a Strong Ethical Commitment” (Business and Society Review, Winter 1999) and “Best Corporate Citizens Have Better Financial Performance” (Strategic Finance, January 2002).

Resisting the Nine Reasons

While I agree with your arguments for running a business in an ethical manner, I am afraid that others may not be so easily convinced, thinking more like the following: 

1. Lawsuits? I can obviously skirt the edge and not go too far, like speeding a little on the freeway. Competitors are doing it and not getting burned. We must keep up.
2. Regulations only increase in extreme cases, like Enron.
3.Will the public will actually care? How much has Nike suffered? Or McDonald’s after the french fries scandal?
4. Investors only care about ROI. If unethical practices actually increase ROI, investors will be attracted.
5.Suppliers/Partners won’t care so long as you don’t cheat them greatly. If I have a virtual monopoly or the best product/price, I can do what I want and they have to live with it.
6. Customers don’t bother to check out ethics. It’s too hard. Case in point: I just bought some new shoes last week. I asked the store manager if she knew if the manufacturers were ethical in their practices. Her response was that she didn’t know and that everybody uses cheap labor in other countries. Did I really want to pay $250 for the shoes I was buying for $50? She also commented that no one had ever asked her before. Remember also, the public didn’t care about Clinton’s scandals so long as the economy was good.
7. Top employee talent will go where top dollars are. Can you prove that ethics is a motivator? I’ve not seen the evidence.
8. Same with employee pride.
9. It’s ‘right’ = ?. For “postmoderns” this is all fluid and so that statement is meaningless. Different cultures have different standards of ethics. Every industry has its own ethics standards. Why should one be better than others? Also, ethical decisions are unclear in most situations.

Finally, is it ethical for customers and employees to choose to honor ethical ideals — rather than choosing what is most competitive and best provides for their children?
Mark Washington
North Park University, Chicago

Editors’ Note: We appreciate your critical questioning. There are good arguments and ample evidence in support of each of our nine reasons, though different people in different settings will find one or another of our nine reasons more (or less) compelling. Our purpose is to do whatever we can to stimulate thinking and interest in improving the ethical health of business.