Bringing Ethics Back: Will It “Fix” the Way We Do Business?
November 16, 2011 · Leave a Comment
Picture this: it is the end of the year and bonuses are being arranged for employees of a multibillion dollar, multinational company. The CEO has worked hard to get where he is, and has managed to increased profits this quarter by a satisfying percentage. There is money to spare, and he feels that is his doing – so does he get that million-dollar end of the year bonus, a miniscule percentage of the overall profits?
This brings into question business ethics, and is the story that most Americans feel they are all too familiar with after the 2008 stock market crash and the subsequent Great Recession. While the blue-collar worker is getting laid off or suffering pay cuts he sees the head honchos in his company get million-dollar paychecks. According to many, the downfall of the economy can be traced back to these big-time business tycoons quarreling over salaries rather than thinking about the good of the country and their employees.
Business Ethics Reemphasized in Business Schools
This has many business schools taking heat over whether their lack of instruction in business ethics is a major flaw in the MBA curriculum, and the business schools are responding. According to a survey by Aspen Institute’s Beyond Grey Pinstripes, the number of business schools offering courses in ethics and reemphasizing ethics in their curriculum went from 34 percent to 79 percent in ten years, from 2001 and 2011. Some remain suspicious of the schools, unsure of the intentions of the changes.
The change, however, is significant enough to indicate a change in attitude. The Wall Street Journal reported that Harvard business school decided to reemphasize ethics in order to revamp its image as a place only for networking and money-hungry ambitions, and other schools are following their lead.
Will This Fix Business?
The real question is whether or not this will actually “fix” the upper echelons of corporate business, and in doing so, “fix” the way our economy is run. Most admit that teaching more ethics in business school is not the end-all and be-all solution to the economic crisis. However, educating business students on ethics is certainly a step in the right direction. Additionally, if the teaching methodology of ethics undergoes changes, such as making it into a more practical, rather than philosophical, discussion, students will get even more out of the study.