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.
Exponent, Inc. is a publicly traded giant in litigation defense and regulatory science with more than $300 million in annual revenues, offices in 20 U.S. cities and five foreign countries, and about 1,000 employees. It’s a go-to destination for major industries with liability problems–even as it is derided by critics as a hired gun whose findings are for sale.
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.
Since the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, American law has required publicly traded companies to detail their sources of so-called “conflict minerals.. Academic research finds that almost 80 percent of firms were unable to determine the sources of the minerals in their products while only one percent could certify their products free of conflict minerals “with great certainty.”
Teaching our kids about sustainability and green living is one of the most important things we can do to safeguard the future of humanity and the planet we inhabit. The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) reports that environmental education teaches children how to learn about and investigate their environment and to make intelligent, informed decisions about sustainability.
Amazon often says it seeks to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company.” Jeffrey P. Bezos, its founder and CEO, has been known to put an empty chair in meetings to remind employees of the need to focus on the customer. But in fact, the company appears to be using its market power and proprietary algorithm to advantage itself at the expense of sellers and many customers.
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?
Understanding the impact one has on others is an obvious requirement for today’s business leaders. So as we plan for the year ahead, writes columnist Gael O’Brien, the process of reflecting on leadership is valuable – and critically important to “leaders earning the right to be followed, employees feeling that what they do matters and customers not being put at risk.”
The ubiquitous social network not only allows advertisers to target users by their interests or background, it also gives advertisers the ability to exclude specific groups it calls “Ethnic Affinities.” Ads that exclude people based on race, gender and other sensitive factors are prohibited by federal law in housing and employment.
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.
Many investors could increase profits and assemble a portfolio more in accord with their personal values if they actively managed their own investments. This opportunity is in part due to the vast resources of the web. But particular knowledge is also essential for successful do-it-yourself (DIY) ethical investing.
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.