Be a Source of Ethical Influence

Some who have commented on Make An Ethical Difference: Tools for Better Action have pointed out that the tools provided for making an ethical difference are also good tools of influence. This makes sense since accomplishing something in ethics often means influencing people. Most discussion of influence are thinly veiled manuals on how to manipulate others. The problem with this is that people recognize that they have been manipulated and limit your future influence. When you influence with ethics, there is no rebound effect. In fact, your ability to influence grows as you learn to influence with ethics. A recent piece in CEO Magazine discusses just this point:

Talk About Ethics

When you write a book, your publisher wants you to get a lot of publicity which means, among other things, doing a lot of radio and television shows. This has nothing to do with your own credentials. PR people just arrange this. As you might imagine, with ethics as a topic, a lot of these interviews turn out to be humorous at best. But I was interviewed by Pat Raskin who runs a radio show and company called Positive Business, and she helped me cover the key points. You may want to listen.

Optimism for Ethics

I recently had the opportunity to speak to a group of students and faculty at Boston University’s Kilichand Honors Program. I have done so many radio programs where the host asks me what is wrong with today’s young people that I wasn’t expecting much. My plan was to cover the main points in Make an Ethical Difference in simplified form. I got a big surprise. The students got very involved in the topic and, to my delight, they showed a level of ethical thinking that is not supposed to exist anymore. They were truly exceptional. The faculty at Kilichand were another pleasant surprise as many were dedicated to integrating ethics in the design of the overall curriculum. I know that this was not a representative sample, but it was a sample and the students and faculty were real! So while we are wringing our hands about today’s kids, please remember that there are some good ones – and some good adults too.


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.

Different Ways People Make Ethical Choices

You might enjoy this article from BusinessWeek about the different ways in which people make ethical choices:

BusinessWeek Article: The Different Ways People Handle Ethical Issues in the Workplace