The Ethical Barometer

News & Events

Jay Fishman, former CEO of Travelers, RIP

Mr. Fishman passed away — Lou Gehrig’s disease.  Mr. Fishman eschewed mortgage-backed securities as an investment vehicle for Travelers. His quote, “You just weren’t being paid enough to take that risk.” Travelers escaped the crunch as well as the AIG type of litigation. Before his death, he and his wife raised $20 million for centers around the country doing research into the disease and its treatments.  Once in awhile, we get a good business story.  May Mr. Fishman’s example live on.

The Unmanageable Conflict of Interest: Access is the Quid for the Quo

The Clinton Foundation is a fascinating study in conflicts of interest.  A conflict of interest is defined as a situation in which an individual is torn between two loyalties.  Let’s say an individual is secretary of state of, say, the United States, and also a founding member, board member, and grand poobah (First Lord of the Treasury, Lord Chief Justice, Commander-in-Chief, Lord High Admiral, etc., etc.) of a foundation that accepts donations from countries, crown princes, and assorted poobahs, dictators, and shady despots.  Let’s say further (more…)

Classic Quotes

“I am running a business. I am a for-profit business.”

Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan pharmaceutical (sellers of the price-increased EpiPen ($600)), and daughter of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.  Ms. Bresch is featured in a case study in Marianne M. Jennings. “Business Ethics: Case Studies and Readings” (Cengage 2014).  For those who have forgotten . . . In 2008, Ms. Bresch, upon being named COO, claimed that she had an MBA from West Virginia University.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette found that she was, in fact, short 22 credit hours. The dogged reporting also revealed a scandal at West Virginia University to create courses, grades, and a degree for her.  Her father was, after all, then Governor Joe Manchin.

When confronted by the press about the degree and all the doings, , Ms. Bresch explained that she would not release a transcript because her word was “better than a transcript.”  However, the reference to the degree was removed from her credentials, and an investigative panel issued a scathing report (more…)

“If everyone told the truth, the stock market would never move.”

Iraj Parvizi, aka Fatty, aka the Mad Punter, testifying at a trial with his three co-defendants who were all  accused of running the biggest insider trading ring in the history of the United Kingdom.  Some additional treasures from the witness stand by Fatty, “You’re making out like I’m the only liar in the stock market,” and “When I was arrested, I was thinking, ‘Why isn’t every trader in the market being arrested? Where does insider trading start, where does it stop?’”   Parvizi added that he was an ‘incurable exaggerator.”  He explained to the prosecutor, “I’ll give you an example.  You are a very, very handsome man.”  The court room, including the jurors, burst into laughter. Parvizi was acquitted after a six-week trial.    It’s the new comedy defense to insider trading.

Ethical Dilemmas

“Tie your flag onto your belt.” Advice from a flag football coach to his young charges.

That strategy does cut down on the other team’s ability to pull that flag off. What does the young player tell the coach? Perhaps, more relevantly, what does the parent of the young player tell the coach? Especially if the young team of belters is winning?

“Get Yourself Fired — You’ll Make More Money!”

The Barometer was strolling through the home section of a major department store.  Tempted by  Christmas potholders at 50% off, the Barometer stopped and soon planted feet firm to continue listening as three employees of this fine establishment conversed about their futures.  The ring leader was explaining to the novice employees that after the new year begins, most of them would be going to part-time status because of slow sales, the economy, health care issues, etc.  The two employees seemed crestfallen.  But, their mentor would have none of it.  “Don’t do it!” said he.  “Get yourself fired because the money you make on unemployment will be better than part-time work here and you can get 99 weeks of unemployment.  Plus, you are eligible for medical care through the government because you are unemployed.  It’s a better deal. It is so not worth it to keep working.” This fine consigliore (more…)

Trust Across America - Top 100 Thought Leaders Ethisphere - 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics

Featured Books by Marianne Jennings

Business Ethics: Case Studies and Selected Readings, 8th Edition

Business Ethics: Case Studies and Selected Readings, 8th Edition

Available 1/31/2014 at
Somewhere Between Ezekiel & Miss Havisham - 365 Days At The Cemetery

Somewhere Between Ezekiel & Miss Havisham - 365 Days At The Cemetery

Available Now at
The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse

Never trust the people you cheat with. They will throw you under the bus.

A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success

Meet Edgar P. Benchley. Charitable people tend to call him a nerd. Others use less subtle descriptions. If you hear Edgar chatting to himself, don't be alarmed. He has an invisible friend who's kind of a cousin to Harvey from the old movie of the same name with Jimmy Stewart.

Anderson's Business Law and the Legal Environment, Standard Volume, 22nd Edition

Anderson’s Business Law and the Legal Environment, Standard Volume, 22nd Edition

Available Now at
Anderson's Business Law and the Legal Environment, Comprehensive Volume, 22nd Edition

Anderson’s Business Law and the Legal Environment, Comprehensive Volume, 22nd Edition

Available Now at
Real Estate Law, 10th Edition

Real Estate Law, 10th Edition

Available Now at