Proof of Faulty Ethics Alarms in the Business World

We tend to think that unethical conduct by individuals in business arises from “bad” individuals, people who either have no ethics alarms at all, or those whose alarms are merrily ringing loudly while they go about their corrupt ways. Certainly there are people like this, but it is increasingly clear to me that most people behave unethically because they have been completely confused by the rationalizations and unethical arguments all around them. Combine this with the absence of ethics training in the schools, and you have a large segment of the public with ethics alarms that are like digital alarm clocks carelessly set to go off at 7 PM  instead of 7 AM. (An analogy that occurs to me now because that’s exactly what I did last night.)

A stark example was on display over the weekend at Computer World, where Mark Gibbs helpfully presented an ethics quiz to his readers entitled “Seven ethical questions.” Continue reading

The A.I.G. Bonus Payments…Again

Here we go again.

A.I.G. is paying out another 100 million in “retention pay,” also known as eye-popping bonuses, which is certain provoke another round of cursing from the public and posturing by politicians. The question is whether it is unethical to pay these bonuses, and you’re not going to like the answer. I don’t like it much myself.

It is no. Continue reading

The Ethics Verdict on Haitian Luxury Cruises

Luxury cruise lines and their passengers are being condemned in some quarters for continuing to dock their ships at Haiti’s private beaches while the rest of Haiti is in the midst of destruction, death and horror. “Royal Caribbean is performing a sickening act to me by taking tourists to Haiti,” one critic wrote one poster on CNN’s “Connect the World” blog. “Having a beach party while people are dead, dying and suffering minutes away hardly makes me want to cruise that particular line,” wrote another. Continue reading