The things leaders do, unwittingly and otherwise, that harm ethical culture, Part 1

Marianne M. Jennings ( is Emeritus Professor of Legal and Ethical Studies in Business W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, USA.

This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Part 2 will be published in the September 2019 issue of ethikos

Organizations spend money, time, and effort on ethics messaging. From videos to sites to desk trinkets to booklets to pens to pads, the goal is to get out that message, “Be ethical.” However, the repetition and expense of these physical and tech efforts is too often countermanded by leaders’ behaviors. Experience in working with organizations struggling to recover from or hoping to prevent ethical lapses has been an eye-opener. Even the savviest of managers do things, however unwittingly, that harm their ethical cultures. Herewith, a look at some of the leader behaviors that affect their organizations’ ethical cultures.

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