Ethics in Business: Faith at Work

By James M. Childs Jr. | Go to book overview

5

BEYOND THE MORAL MINIMUM

Attention to ethics could mean smaller fines and could even keep one out of jail. That is what a growing number of business leaders are coming to recognize as the result of a recent government initiative. According to a report in the business ethics periodical Ethikos, the federal organizational sentencing guidelines issued by the U.S. Sentencing Commission in November 1991 provide for reduced fines when organizations guilty of violating the law have had in place a program to prevent and detect such violations.

As the Commission sees it, an [effective] compliance program is a fairly
major undertaking, generally involving codes of conduct, ethics training
sessions, disciplinary systems, auditing and monitoring efforts, mecha-
nisms to encourage employees to report violations without fear of retribu-
tion, and proper accountability for the program as a whole. Corporations
that fail to adopt such measures—and spurn the government's invitation
to become partners—risk the possibility of devastating fines.1

At least one respected business ethics consultant I know has reported that the consulting business has picked up noticeably since word of the commission's offer has spread.

There are a variety of motives for trying to do the right thing and for taking ethics seriously. Among them are fear of the consequences for not doing so and the pragmatic conviction that, overall, it pays to be ethical. The U.S. Sentencing Commission's offer appeals to both of these kinds of motives. Others do not need that enticement; they are committed to high ethical standards simply because it's right or because it contributes to the greater good. Whatever the case, the variety of motives we can observe alerts us to the fact that consideration of motive is part of any ethics discussion. Beliefs about the importance of motive and the kind of motive that is morally praiseworthy may be the very feature that distinguishes one approach to ethics from others.

-56-

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Ethics in Business: Faith at Work
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1: Bridging the Shareability Gap 1
  • 2: From Being a Nobody to Being a Somebody 14
  • 3: The Not-So-Secular World 28
  • 4: From Dualism to Dialogue 42
  • 5: Beyond the Moral Minimum 56
  • 6: Beyond Leadership to Servant Leadership 71
  • 7: Beyond Affirmative Action 86
  • 8: Beyond Mere Survival 102
  • 9: Beyond Certainty 121
  • 10: Beyond the Company Walls 136
  • Notes 149
  • Index 163
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