We recently did a survey of readers, looking for suggestions of what they would like to see in Ethix. One idea came up several times—could we feature a conversation with a person lower in the organization who is dealing with issues “from the middle,” not just with the person at the top of the organization. This is a great idea, but difficult because people in the middle often cannot speak their mind as freely.
But we found the perfect solution. Bob Wright was responsible for the West Coast Tax Division for Arthur Andersen, just before September 11, 2001. The Andersen role in Enron hit the papers in November of that same year, and the eighty-year-old Andersen was completely gone by June 2002. Wright kept a journal during this period and shares a story that I would call incredible courage in a world falling apart. Telling this story now allows the benefit of reflection free of much of the emotion of that time. Though he is presently the CEO of the Matthew G. Norton Company in Seattle, the primary perspective of the conversation is from the middle management position at Andersen. Denise Daniels, Seattle Pacific University professor, School of Business and Economics, participated in the conversation with me.
One of the strands of his story is his personal religious faith. In fact, it is impossible to separate his story and his faith. Since ethics is all about right and wrong, and religion is the source of right and wrong for many people, this is a topic we must tackle in Ethix. We have begun gathering multiple perspectives on this subject, and are planning a special issue of Ethix dealing with religion and business later in 2005.
Some other features of this issue: The Forum, managed by Stuart Jenner, has returned; some great new books and videos are reviewed in the section managed by Gerard Beenen; and another person “caught in the middle” is the focus of Ethics at Work, written by Kenman Wong. Roger Eigsti had a difficult time cutting News Notables to the one page we have allocated for this feature, indicating the high profile news on business ethics is continuing.
Also in this issue, we have reprinted “Nine Reasons to Run a Business in an Ethical Manner.” This is a hot topic and I frequently speak at companies from this list. My column deals with a technology problem that is seldom discussed: getting rid of old technology.
As 2005 begins, we hope there will be better news on the business ethics front this year. Happy New Year!
PS We are going to start the year with a two-for-one subscription offer. With any new subscription or renewal, you can provide a friend or colleague with a one-year subscription for free. Write “2 for 1” on the card insert, and send it in with both names and addresses by the end of February.