China’s extensive state censorship is just one example of the challenges that companies frequently confront when doing business globally. In an excerpt from his new book, former GE legal counsel Ben W. Heineman, Jr. examines the “recurrent dilemma” confronting businesses when a corporation’s global ethical standards collide with national law.
President Trump in January issued an order weakening Obama-era ethics policies, allowing lobbyists to work at agencies they had sought to influence. The Trump order did limit what lobbyists could do once they entered government, banning them from directly handling issues on which they had lobbied. But the administration may not be even following that.
Big railroads are often targeted by complaints of illegal retaliation against whistleblowers who disclose safety hazards or report on-the-job injuries. A recent $1.25 million damage award to a former BNSF Railway Co. employee spotlights what critics say is the unjust punishment sometimes meted out to railroad workers who report injuries or safety problems.
When Congress approved the landmark Medicare Part D program in 2003 to help seniors buy prescription drugs, it slapped on an unusual restriction: The federal government was barred from negotiating cheaper prices for those medicines. The ban on government price bargaining, justified by supporters on free market grounds, has been derided by critics as a giant gift to the drug industry.
Social enterprises are judged by both their social impact and their ability to thrive as financially sustainable businesses. Unfortunately many, if not most, attempts at replicating successful social enterprises have failed. Two experts from the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship examine assumptions about what both “success” and “replication” mean with respect to social enterprises.
Cleantech start-ups have floundered recently after an initial wave of investment a decade ago. But renewed interest in the space thanks to the Paris climate accord has re-energized innovation and attracted the attention of some well-known, deep-pocketed venture capital investors.
An executive for an investment firm that adheres to the principles of Islam and Islamic finance explains why the firm has stepped into the arena of shareholder engagement with its first shareholder resolution, calling on Exxon Mobil to increase transparency in its lobbying spending.
Columnist Gael O’Brien examines the achievements and contributions of a man – W. Michael Hoffman (pictured left) – and the Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University, which he founded 40 years ago. “Legacy goes beyond a name on a building,” O’Brien writes. “It’s the sustained passion that connects with and energizes the passion of others sharing a mission.”
The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity conducts an annual essay contest for undergraduate full-time Juniors or Seniors at accredited four-year colleges or universities in the United States. Students may write about any topic they wish, as long as their essay explores the theme of ethics. The Prize in Ethics Essay Contest was established by the Elie […]
Pay packages for CEOs of U.S.-based companies continue out of control, writes columnist Gael O’Brien, with boards often succumbing to “fear-based” compensation practices that undermine the potential for collaborative leadership and sustainability. She notes new research which disputes conventional wisdom that CEOs can easily move to the next company if not paid well. “Tackling excessive CEO compensation,” O’Brien writes, “is the first step in creating a new normal.”
Columnist Gael O’Brien says Volkswagen’s confession to rigging emissions standards on millions of diesel cars means the company’s board and new CEO, Matthias Müller (left), need to understand and correct what made it possible for illegal and unethical choices to be made when obstacles to business goals surfaced. What prevented anyone from speaking up or if anyone did, from being heard? And what are leaders willing to do to change that?
How do we achieve a better working world that is more inclusive and gender equal? Columnist Gael O’Brien says the answer is ultimately connected to how respect shows up in a company’s culture: “Without the cornerstones of respect and safety – integral to leadership responsibility – progress toward a better working world will be two steps forward and five back.”
Facing a wave of criticism for allowing advertisers to exclude anyone with an “affinity” for African-American, Asian-American or Hispanic people from seeing ads, Facebook said it would build an automated system that would let it better spot ads that discriminate illegally.
A survey of American Red Cross employees shows a crisis of trust in the charity’s leadership and deep internal doubts about the Red Cross’ commitment to ethical conduct. In response to the statement, “I trust the senior leadership of the American Red Cross,” just 39 percent responded favorably.
Commentary: When a Workplace Tragedy is Also a Crime (Comments Off)
When we hear about shootings, bank robberies, or home invasions, we expect the perpetrators to be arrested, tried, and punished appropriately if they are found guilty. When an employer ignores workplace safety and causes a worker to be seriously injured or killed on the job, it is just as criminal, yet arrests and prosecutions are rare. Why does our justice system so often shield businesses, CEOs, and other executives from criminal charges when they gamble with workers’ lives?
In an exclusive interview with the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates discusses the challenges of philanthropy in an economic recession and how his tenure at Microsoft prepared him for his new job running the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“We live not just in a global economy but in a global supply chain,” says international labor expert Richard Locke. “The most important thing is to educate consumers, especially in large markets, so they understand that the choices they make have implications for issues of living standards, working conditions and justice in the factories that produce most of the things we buy every day.”
With limited staff, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) relies heavily on its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, a broad workplace safety program which currently has more than 500 businesses are on its list of bad actors. They include corporate giants such as DuPont and International Paper, each with tens of thousands of employees, as well as more than 300 construction firms. The effort faces an uncertain future under the Trump administration.
Columnist Gael O’Brien examines efforts by a group of values-driven shareholders to pressure the scandal-ridden Wells Fargo bank for a report containing some structured self-examination. A Roman Catholic nun who’s active in the campaign says Wells Fargo officials “come back to us and tell us they are living by their vision and values….We are betrayed because they haven’t been living by that.”
In an excerpt from their new book, two senior McKinsey consultants argue that rather than facing a crisis because of natural resource scarcity, businesses confront an opportunity that will reframe the world’s economy and create opportunities for trillions of dollars in profits.
A new television/video program, “Business In Society,” delivering news and analysis on how business is addressing global society’s macro problems — among them, the environment, energy conservation, and women’s empowerment — debuts Saturday, March 30th, 2013.