In an Ethics Crisis Find the Root Cause

In an ethics crisis, it is not enough to know what happened; you need to know why it happened. Most organizations can survive a single ethics crisis. But if the same conduct is repeated, even if by different individuals, this will fix the negative impression of the organization in cement. Organizations tend to want to keep changes to a minimum, as big changes seem to be a further admission of culpability. But you need to be sure that you have changed personnel and systems sufficiently that the same conduct does not recur.

Publications of Interest

I have found two recent publications that may be of interest. The first is on ethics and business success and pretty much follows the discussion here. It can be read at The second is on a new topic which is how to build ethics into a start-up. This one is by Martin Zwilling and can be read at Enjoy and comments are always welcome.

In an Ethics Crisis Assume the Government Will Be Involved

When an organization does something viewed as unethical, the public wants someone to do something about it. And that someone is likely to be “the government.” Most organizations are open to some level of government oversight. When the government comes knocking, you can expect to hand over most everything you know about the crisis. Why? Even though some of the material may be covered by legal privilege, the government will find you uncooperative if you “hide” information. Your reasoning about the crisis needs be premised on when the government finds out rather than whether the government finds out.