“I Read the News Today, Oh, Boy!” : A Day in the Life of Ethics — What, Me Worry?

Here are some headlines from Friday, December 21, 2018. They speak for themselves about the increasing prevalence of ethical lapses:

“Merrill Settles With Regulator,” Wall Street Journal, p. B10 (settlement of $6 million with FINRA for selling shares early in companies it was taking public (IPOs) early to family and friends)

“EU Probes Banks Over Suspected Collusion,” Wall Street Journal,” p. B10 — Yes, despite what happened with LIBOR rates in 2016, the EU has requested records from Deutsche, Credit Suisse, and Bank of America in an investigation into collusion on bond-market manipulation.

“McKinsey Had Dual Roles in GenOn,” Wall Street Journal, p. B10 –In an ongoing issue of conflicts with McKinsey’s role as a bankruptcy adviser, McKinsey failed to disclose to the bankruptcy court that its retirement fund held investments in hedge funds that were creditors of GenCo Energy. McKinsey was serving as an adviser in the GenCo bankruptcy and, ergo, had an interest in the outcome of who gets what in the distributions. McKinsey says its investment arm for its retirement fund is entirely separate and independent. However, just a question from the Barometer’s simple mind: Aren’t the folks working on the bankruptcy beneficiaries of their firm’s retirement fund? A judge screening McKinsey as a potential adviser in the Westmoreland Coal Co. bankruptcy said, “I don’t like being misled, and transparency and honesty are things I believe in.” We used to all believe in those things.

“German Magazine Says Reporter Made Up Facts,” Wall Street Journal, A7; and “German Reporter Made Up Stories and Now Critics Are ‘Popping the Corks,'” New York Times, p. B3. — Der Spiegel published the epic falsehoods of Claas Relotius, including made-up dialogues, characters, and story lines. In the U.S., it is called “fake news.” In Germany, it is Lugenpresse, or “Lying press.” In ethics, we call it just plain wrong. If you want composite characters and intense dialogue, write a novel, not stories for publication as news.

“After 2 Abuse Settlements, Why Is This Priest Still Saying Mass?” New York Times, p. A21. The Catholic Church is certainly all about forgiveness, even after paying two six-figure settlements to one accuser and the widow of another. Forgiveness is one thing; suggesting another line of work is the necessary next step.

Last one, and no day is complete without another #MeToo headline:

“Weinstein’s Request for Case Dismissal Is Rejected by Judge,” New York Times, p. A23.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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