NYSE Euronext served as the venue for Ethisphere’s Best Practices in Ethics Communications Workshop, held last Thursday, and what a difference a year makes. in October 2012 Superstorm Sandy caused the stock exchange to close briefly due to flooding nearby. Last week, NYSE Euronext visitors didn’t need to wear wading boots.
Instead, workshop attendees became immersed in weighty topics: the reasons for ethical failures, building ethical cultures, boardroom oversight and the example set by Warren Buffett. While the “oracle of Omaha” didn’t appear at the New York event, his presence was felt in the image gallery outside the conference room. Many other ethics specialists were on hand to offer their perspectives, including PR and corporate executives, professors and lawyers. Below is a brief series of takeaways.
Ethics trends and views vary by region: “Ethics is a bigger trend now in Europe than the U.S., while in Asia, ethics is a work in progress”, said Paul Argenti, professor of corporate communications and social responsibility at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.
“It’s interesting to see how those in developed countries see ethics practices in developing countries, since there’s often hypocrisy in their views”, noted Alex Thompson, EVP of business and social purpose at Edelman. The firm conducts domestic and global surveys on trust and ethics-related topics.
Reasons why ethical lapses occur: “Pressure to meet unrealistic business objectives” is by far the biggest culprit, not the perpetrators’ egos, Argenti reported. Shortcuts leading to tainted food, for example, can result from staff desperately trying to meet short-term returns, he added.