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Posts tagged Ethisphere.

Four Ethics Links: April 12, 2010

Four ethics links is a review of recent stories in applied ethics. This week: The Ethics of Ethisphere, The Banks, War Journalism, Yelp, and Planetary Exploration and Colonization.

In wake of crisis, public eyes corporate ethics - Reuters

Some of the best-known U.S. companies, including General Electric, Gap and Google, made The Ethisphere Institute's 2010 ranking of the 100 most ethical companies (read our worries about these rankings here) , released on Monday. But, after a government bailout of the U.S. financial system, no Wall Street banks were represented for a second straight year.

We quote Reuters, who sounds like they're quoting us:

Top ethics officials at several major U.S. companies said honest business practices are critical after a brutal downturn that pushed the U.S. jobless rate as high as 10 percent, savaged retirement savings and home values and left many Americans less trustful of big business.

Read all about it here

Jean-Francois Millet: Gleaners
Jean-Francois Millet, Gleaners
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PaulApr 12, 2010
 

The business of ethical authority

Where we last left off, I was pondering the trajectory of DLB. Spreading the word about design ethics is our next step, but ultimately, we want to go out and help people design more ethically. We'd also like to get paid to do so. This begs the question: How does one balance business with authority?

To be in business, you have to have the requisite knowledge and/or skills of your trade. People trust that you know what you're doing; that you know more about something than they do-- I would call this authority. If you don't have it, you have no business diagnosing and fixing things.

The trouble is authority can easily be abused. The quintessential example of this is an auto mechanic. While it's the mechanic's job to diagnose your car for you, it must be difficult for them to be impartial. It's in their best interest to find something wrong or at least tell you that there is some work that needs to be done. This is not to say mechanics are inherently dishonest, it's just that there is a definite conflict of interest in play.

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NickFeb 26, 2009
 

Ranking the most ethical companies in the world

What are the ethics of advertising ethics?

As we currently wrestle with a definition of design ethics, I have been struck by another question: what does the endgame for this project look like?

Not to jump ahead too far, but assuming we come up with a model of "good" design, what next?

I think we ask: What can be done to educate designers and consumers on good ethical practices? Moreover, how can we hope to enforce those ethics?

This post was inspired by Ethisphere, a business ethics think-tank that also publishes a magazine on the topic. I learned about them last week during this piece on NPR.

Besides their mission, what interested me is how they create awareness about business ethics in accessible ways. Ideally, if corporations and the public are better informed about ethics, that may serve as a kind of enforcement. Therefore, as we enter into the next stage of DLB -- publication -- I am interested in metrics and visualizations people use to talk about ethics.

For instance, Ethisphere has an annual list of the most ethical companies in the world. I can't begin to imagine what a task it would be to compile a list of the most ethical designs, but it's an idea. People like lists. They're easy to digest and a good way to get people interested in complex topics.

Graphs are nice, too:

World's Most Ethical Companies versus S&P 500
According to Ethisphere, ethical leadership leads to greater profits. It's something we've been saying for a while, but now we have proof of it in handy chart form. Via Ethisphere.

I'm a bit skeptical about Ethisphere's methodology, however. Participation in the index seems to be voluntary, so it's not exactly comprehensive. It seems to be a more collegial affair; the magazine isn't out there doing investigative journalism. There is no "least ethical companies in the world" list each year. (Though, I'd like to see that, too.)

I wonder why this is the case? On one hand, as a company that needs to sell magazines and fill conferences, how objective can Ethisphere afford to be? Who is to say they aren't creating their own market by judging unfairly? Or being too generous to avoid stepping on toes? On the other hand, if they aren't ethical or objective themselves, then they can't claim any kind of authority. The more I think about it, the more complex the situation becomes.

I think DLB is in a similar pickle. How can one sell ethics in a trustworthy way?

I will try to figure that out on Thursday. See you then!

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NickFeb 24, 2009