Why care about ethics? This question was at the heart of the second annual Navigating the Grey Ethics Conference. ----Boothies from a wide variety of backgrounds and industries had dinner together to discuss this and other questions. If you missed the only ethics conference available at Booth, here are the top five takeaways:
1. Would you outsource your ethics? -Psychologist Daven Morrison. He challenged business leaders to not only care about ethics but take ownership of setting the values for their organization.
2. We were not selling audits or other tangible products to our clients; we were selling trust. –former Arthur Anderson CEO, Duane Kullberg. In many industries, especially professional services, trust is central to the business model.
3. Avoiding ethical lapses is like avoiding obesity. Research has shown that if you want to lose weight, get rid of the junk food in the house. The best way to change the ethics of the business is not to try harder; it is to change the environment so that there are fewer opportunities to act unethically" – Professor Nicholas Epley
4. How do you encourage employees to identify unethical behavior? Take tangible steps like reducing the risks of whistle blowing by setting up an anonymous comment drop box. –Scott Griffith, former CEO of Zipcar.
5. Put the client first. When a company loses focus on serving their clients, making ethical decisions becomes much harder. -Matthew Bartholomew, Chief Risk Officer at Northern Trust.
Navigating the Grey was an excellent opportunity to talk with expert panelists and fellow classmates about the dilemmas and difficult decisions that every business leader will face. For those interested in continuing the conversation, Christians in Business hosts lunches every Wednesday to discuss these types of issues-stop by anytime.
Nicholas Reierson is a first year at Booth and the co-chair for Christians in Business group which organized the conference.