The Ethical Barometer

News & Events

Sheryl Sandberg “Leans In” A Little Too Much on Facebook Users

Facebook published a study that indicated it was fooling around with newsfeeds to its users (unbeknownst to those users) to determine whether its scientists could affect users’ emotions with positive and negative news. The problem is that the 700,000 users who were the subjects in the 2012 one-week study were unaware that they were part of the experiment. Those users are fit to be tied, as are government regulators in Britain and Ireland. However, COO Sheryl Sandberg of “Lean In” book and foundation fame, has some reassuring words, “We clearly communicated really badly about this, and that we really regret. We do research in an ongoing way, in a very privacy-protective way, to improve our services, and that was done with this goal.”

Some questions for Facebook users about this statement: (more…)

“The dog ate my homework. And then, well, believe it or not, something ate the dog! And now we can’t even find the something!”

The IRS has given schoolchildren everywhere new insights for homework excuses.

Classic Quotes

“I can’t sell it because I have a conscious [sic]. I’m just stuck with it.”

Owner of a Jeep SUV that is under a recall for fuel-tank fires. The recall was in 2013, and involves 1.6 million Jeep vehicles, but there has been a lack of parts and other problems that have resulted in only 8% of the vehicles being fixed. Anthony Jewell, the owner, has his Jeep just sitting parked because he does not feel safe driving it, and, well, the quote of this noble man appears above. Mr. Jewell is correct in his mastery of the ethical implications of his situation. Last week, a woman driving a Jeep was killed when her vehicle burst into flames — the accident was 15 miles from Chrysler headquarters. Chrysler says that it has 461,000 parts on hand and stands ready, willing, and able to make the fixes needed.

Some people do the right thing even though not responsible for the original defect.

Note: the spelling error “conscience” vs. “conscious” in the Wall Street Journal‘s error, not Mr. Jewell’s.

“[Don't] give me any of that ethics crap.”

With a hat tip to ethics expert, Jane Antonio, for getting this breaking news to the Barometer, we can offer this classic from one of the vice presidents at DaVita Health Care Partners in response to now former employee, David Barbetta, when he raised questions about the company’s referral practices. DaVita, the third largest company in Denver, runs dialysis clinics and was offering doctors leads and opportunities on joint ventures in clinics in exchange for referrals. DaVita’s patients are 79% Medicare and Medicaid, so Mr. Barbetta, troubled by the conflicts, quit his job at DaVita and blew the whistle to the federal government. Now he and his lawyers will receive 15-25% of the $389 million (more…)

Ethical Dilemmas

“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…)

Returning Slightly Used Shoes

Even the well seasoned Dillard’s manager was taken aback by this one. A customer brought in a pair of moderately expensive dress shoes, expressing a desire to return them because they just weren’t quite right. As the manager processed the order she checked inside the box to be sure that the shoes in the box were the shoes the matched the box – past experience dictated that follow-up on returns. The shoes were the correct ones for the box, but the customer had another issue. The shoes had masking tape on the bottom – masking tape that was dirty. When the manager returned to the customer (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

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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

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