Compliance Interview

In a recent interview, Mark Pastin discusses a wide range of issues on corporate compliance. Please feel free to offer comments on any of the topics discussed in the video.



headshot of Mark PastinWelcome to Mark Pastin’s web site. You will find information about Mark and his publications, services and speaking engagements here. Mark started working on ethics and compliance problems in business, government and the professions in the early 1970s. His 1986 book, The Hard Problems of Management: Gaining the Ethics Edge, was the first to take a managerial approach to ethics in business. (See Publications for details.) In his new book, Mark shows readers how to use their own innate ethical sense to create organizational and social change. Make an Ethical Difference: Tools for Better Action was released late in 2013 and is available now at and Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Author Interview

The attached video explains the main themes of Mark Pastin’s new book Make an Ethical Difference. One novel theme of the book is that individuals have an innate ability to make ethical judgments. Pastin calls this ability the “ethics eye.” More on this topic in coming posts as the main themes of Make an Ethical Difference are previewed.

Lies about Ethics

No topic is more subject to lies than ethics. In fact, our thinking about ethics typically begins with a lie. Each of us tells our self that we are ethical while we are uncertain about the ethics of most everyone else. We are always the exception. Ethics is the subject of a lot of lies because it is very personal to us and is part of our self-esteem. If you do a lot of thinking about ethics, you may end up challenging the very foundation of who you are. But lies about ethics are not harmless. They keep us mired in endless ethical disagreement about some of the most important issues of the day such as immigration, executive compensation, and climate change. Over the next several posts, starting here, I will talk about some of the big lies about ethics.

You Can’t Teach People Ethics.

This is patently false since most parents teach their children ethical basics, albeit with varying degrees of success. Parents teach children ethics by using rewards, punishments, persuasion and example. And this mostly works. The goal of parental teaching is to equip us to make ethical judgments once we no longer have our parents to guide us. Since we know ethics can be taught, we have to ask whether we should be using the same tools to continue ethics education into adulthood. However, these tools are less effective with adults just because adults believe that they already know the truth about ethics.

Ethics Crises

I have an article about how to address an ethics crisis, which includes most business crises, at

Comments are always welcomed and answered as possible.

Pick an Ethical Employer

When you are looking for a job, how do you know if a prospective employer meets your ethical standards? This issue is addressed in the article from the Huffington Post.

Ethics and Compliance Training

The bad news is that ethics and compliance training programs usually don’t work. The good new is that it really isn’t as hard as you may think to make it work. There is a recent article in a publication called Training on this topic. Follow the link below to read it.

Ethics, Compliance and HR

As many of you know first hand, there has been a running battle over the years between ethics/compliance and human resources. This battle often focuses on the hotline and the idea that most hotline calls are about HR issues. But there are also battles over training, investigations, background checks – you  name it. If anyone is willing to share stories about this battle, it would be most welcome. You can comment here or contact me directly at Don’t worry I am not looking for anything to be attributed by name or organization – just some of the experiences of ethics and compliance professionals. What I write about this will eventually end up on this web site.

5th and Final Surprising Truth about Ethics

You can teach a person ethics.

This should be obvious since most parents teach most children ethics to some extent – although not as much as we might like. The reason we can teach children ethics is that children respond to incentives, whether it is a new toy for telling the truth or a pronounced glare for lying. Companies spend tens of millions of dollars trying to talk their employees into acting ethically. But they keep the same reward system that they have always used in which ethics plays no part. And so nothing changes.

5 Surprising Truths about Ethics in One Place


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