Category Archives: Ethical Leadership

European Business Ethics Forum: sharing successful practices

European Business Ethics Forum: sharing successful practices

by Ingrida Andrijauskaite

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For 12 years, the European Business Ethics Forum (EBEF) has brought together those global business leaders who are responsible for ethics, compliance or business conduct programmes within their organisations. This year’s ethics forum was held in Paris. EBEF provided great opportunities for the participants from different business industries to present how their work connected with maintaining sustainable business. Furthermore, the companies discussed the main problems that are caused by doing business honestly and ethically.

Does Business comply with Ethics?

Quite often we hear about the necessity of ethics and integrity within business.  The professionals of ethics underline that business stakeholders and representatives who want to build a strong business community and a reliable brand should focus more on the best fundamental ethical practices and accountable solutions of their behaviour in the public.

One of the results of EBEF revealed that companies prefer to focus on measures which are visible and documentable, and also on the aim of selling their products or services, rather than onvalues and cultural issues. Ethical behaviour in business can reduce ethical problems within corporations.  That’s why, every year, EBEF seeks to emphasize the importance of demonstrating a high level of ethics and compliance.

The main values such as integrity and having a sustainable culture are the most pertinent international standards and the companies which adhere to ethical principles are seeking to effectively improve and grow their business in the consumerist environment.

What is the significance of EBEF for the business community?

The professionals of business ethics state that effective investigation practices help to increase endeavour towards an ethical culture and reduce the risk of reputational harm or criminal sanctions. In this forum, business leaders can share their specific professional experiences, and also demonstrate how investigations of business behaviour could benefit other companies.

With the objective of understanding why EBEF is important for the business community, Philippa Foster Back, a director at the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) in the UK, states that this forum provides very strong practical solutions to make ethical business more attainable.

Philippa Foster Back has said that EBEF is a practitioners-only event, where those responsible for ethics and compliance within larger organisations, can get together in an informal setting and discuss the challenges and issues they face in their roles. The discussions range from issues around communicating ethics to middle management or engaging leadership, to technical aspects of an ethics programme such as investigations, auditing and measuring to training and engaging ethics ambassadors or incentivising ethical behaviour.

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A director of the IBE believes that the most important key to the success of the forum is that it is peers in similar roles sharing their experiences of what works, or what doesn’t. “It is also an opportunity to discuss some ethical issues which are rising up the agenda, such as big data or human rights.  Together, the forum attendees are able to find ways of working to make their ethics programmes, and ultimately their businesses, successful,” said Philippa Foster Back.

Every year, the European Business Ethics Forum invites only those organisations which have over 500 employees. This reveals that large businesses are open to public discussions about problems concerning ethics. Also, it shows that large companies care about their leadership status but in the right and professional way.

In summary, the open discussion and sharing of great experiences can become a very effective tool for companies which are still confronted with ethical dilemmas in their business environment. This can help support managers to improve their management of ethical objectives, which in turn motivates their team members, and builds a more open and trusting business industry.

If you would like to find out more about European Business Ethics Forum, visit: www.ebef.eu

Business ethics and corporate social responsibility

Business ethics and corporate social responsibility

by Ingrida Andrijauskaite

Business-Ethics

Every year the watchdog of ethics focuses on ethical values in business. The desire to have an ethical and responsible business is developing a colaboration between small and large corporations. Ethical organisations, such as the Institute of Business Ethics, are seeking to unite all companies to join and share knowledge concerning the best ethical practices, activities and solutions.

The ethics of a business depends on the company’s culture. The decision to do activities ethically is an example of  moral behaviour. All corporations have to decide what to do and how to do it in order to align their behaviour with their ethical values.

A Cadbury Schweppes – Business Case Studies[1] presents some examples of the positive impact that ethical behaviour and corporate social responsibility has on a business:

  • Attracts customers to the firm’s products, thereby boosting sales and profits.
  • Makes employees want to stay with the business, reducing labour turnover and therefore increase productivity.
  • Increases the number of employees wanting to work for the business, reducing recruitment costs and enabling the company to obtain the most talented employees.
  • Attracts investors and keeps the company’s share price high, thereby protecting the business from takeover.

So, ethical behaviour and social responsibility in business is considered the key to success for a company. Also, it is a way for businesses to gain the publics’ trust.

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Attitudes of the British Public on Business Ethics

Every years Ipsos MORI, a market research company, conducts a survey about the British publics’ view on ethical behaviour of British business and the issues that most need solving. The survey results revealed that in 2014 the majority of the British public considered that the general behaviour of British enterprises is fairly or very ethical. 58 % of the respondents thought that British business was more ethical than unethical. However, 40 % of the respondents thought that the behaviour of British businesses was “not very” or “not at all” ethical.

This survey also asked the British public to compare the behaviour of British businesses to how it was 10 years ago. The data of Ipsos MORI showed that 36% of the British public thought that businesses were behaving “less ethically” than 10 years ago. Just 25 % of the respondents believed businesses were more ethical. 36 % thought that businesses looked the “same”.[2]

We can assume that, although the majority of the British trust and think positively about the behaviour of businesses, there is a large percentage of the public who acknowledge the lack of ethical behaviour in business. It is very important for businesses to incorporate social responsibility, integrity, and honesty.

The main issues mentioned by the British public were corporate tax avoidance ( 35%) and executive pay (34%). However, the data of the survey revealed that bribery and corruption has also increased one place (19%).

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Also, this information shows us that the British public wants to see more honesty from the business community, especially from employers who could inform companies about unethical behaviour or wrongdoing.

Perhaps, we can hope that this data could encourage the business community to focus more on forging reliable and honest connections with society. Also, it is vital not to forget to emphasize the practical applications of a company’s ethics in the public arena so that people can find out about a corporation’s social responsibility and their efforts to incorporate ethics into their business strategies.

HSBC tax scandal – an example of unethical behaviour

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The HSBC tax scandal, is a clear example of corporate unethical behaviour. HSBC has been shaken by leaked financial documents, most from around 2005-2007, that reveal that it helped wealthy customers evade taxes. The documents were leaked by Hervé Falciani, a former systems engineer from HSBC’s Geneva branch.

This secret data revealed that the bank not only helped rich customers evade taxes but also provided accounts for international criminals, corrupt businessmen and other high-risk individuals. HSBC presented a general letter to the public, in which they apologized for this tax dodging scandal and emphasized that they have made changes since the period which is covered by the documents, and that it’s Swiss private bank had been “completely overhauled.”

Such scandles are the reason for why corporate tax avoidance is a public concern. This is one of the biggest problems in businesses. How did HSBC manage their reputation crisis? They sent a public notice in which they sincerely apologized about the tax scandal. Also, they tried to emphasize how now everything has changed and improved.

What about HSBC’s current culture? As HSBC’s group Chief Executive, Stuart Gulliver said: HSBC has been working tirelessly and with great dedication to build a stronger bank with fully global businesses and functions, rigorous controls and the highest global standards, all underpinned by a clear strategy to serve our millions of loyal customers. We can try to believe it, but now HSBC have to prove their integrity and focus on ethical standards.

The unethical financial situation of HSBC has showed us how employees are able to speak up about companies’ wrongdoing. Hervé Falciani’s behaviour could be considered criminal, as he secretely stole private company financial data. Nevertheless, this is evidence that large corporations do not always respect the ethical standards or even the law, and do not focus on their compliance.

The advantages of Ethical behaviour in business

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In summary, all companies should not forget the advantages of ethical behavior in business. It is very important to build and improve customer loyalty – consumers have to know that a company appreciates and respects them. Also, a company’s reputation built around it’s ethical behaviour can help to create a more positive image in the marketplace and allows them to reach a greater number of potential clients.

On the contrary,  if a company has an unethical reputation, the chances of obtaining new customers decreases, especially in this era of innovative social networks, where all customers are able to quickly find negative information about a company’s  activities.

The improvement of internal communications. It is significant to share information within an organization so that all employees are aware of the values of a company. Focusing on the improvement of professional skills is important to employees, as talented individuals want to  improve their skills and knowledge, in order to advance in their career.

In addition, every employee wants to be part of an organisation where they know the truth about whats is going on, particularly in crisis situations. Those companies which are responsible and open with their employees have a better chance of attracting and retaining more talented staff.

Avoid Legal Problems  a company has to respect and abide by the law. Also,  companies must focus on environmental regulations and labour laws, and also not ignore workers’ safety. If these factors are not taken into account, a company’s reputation can be damaged. Those companies which focus on the highest ethical standards can build a strong protection of their fundamental values.

 

[1]Business Case Studies: http://businesscasestudies.co.uk/cadbury-schweppes/ethical-business-practices/the-importance-of-ethics-in-business.html#axzz3Ru3WMJWB

[2]The survey results of the Institute of Business Ethics: http://www.ibe.org.uk/userassets/surveys/attitudes2014.pdf

Brainwaves in Business: How neurofeedback can make you a more ethical leader

Brainwaves in Business:

How neurofeedback can make you a more ethical leader

by Sasha Seddon

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The idea of being able to modify brain activity using neuroscientific techniques may sound like a frightening prospect. It invokes images of the bleak dystopian futures imagined by science fiction writers, in which scientific advances have been used to oppress humanity, in an attempt to prevent crime, violence or war. There is no ethical leadership in these futures – the concept is an oxymoron. However, this is the stuff of fiction. The reality is much less scary but nevertheless exciting. Progress in neuroscience is allowing us to enhance certain aspects of our personalities, with a technique called neurofeedback. It is not mind control – it is simply a way in which people can self-regulate the activity of their brain – and it has potential for improving leadership.

Do we need new ways to encourage ethics in leadership?

Linda Klebe Treviňo and Michael Brown, scholars of organisational behaviour and ethics in management, have declared that “a more descriptive and predictive social scientific approach to ethics and leadership has remained underdeveloped and fragmented” (Brown & Trevino, 2006).

There have been a number of cases throughout the past decade where ethics have been severely compromised in the corporate world, with one salient example being the 2001 Enron scandal. This revealed that the CEOs of the US energy company Enron had been exploiting their employees by covering up the company’s true financial health. They created subsidiary companies which could show losses whilst allowing the parent company to falsely appear financially sound, thus raising the price of Enron stock. Eventually this led to the company’s collapse, with 20,000 employees losing their jobs. It resulted from the dishonesty of the CEOs and their disregard for the future of both their employees and shareholders, the inattentiveness of the Board of Directors to the nature of the subsidiary companies, and the complicity of the investment banking world. One way to safeguard against similar crises would be to enforce ethics more vigorously via governmental reforms. Another way would be to take an internal approach, integrating ethics into leadership training practices.

Luckily, neuroscience and philosophy have recently been brought together to work out what underlies the subjective concept of ethical leadership. A marriage between the sciences and humanities may raise a few cynical eyebrows but it usually gives birth to some interesting new ideas. But first things first, how do we define the concept of ethical leadership?

What it means to be an ethical leader

The fundamental objective of leaders should be to ensure the long-term stability of their company and the well-being of their employees, avoiding the myopic self-interest displayed by the executives involved in the Enron scandal.

For John Buchan, the nineteenth century Scottish novelist and politician, a leader’s task was “not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there”. And according to Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, who won the 2013 Stanley C. Pace Award for Leadership in Ethics, it means appreciating the significance of everyone involved in every stage of the process, from the farmers to the store employees. Perhaps then, acknowledging the contributions of every employee and striving to bring out their good attributes, is the key to successful business ethics. An ethical leader is a grateful and empathetic one, able to connect with employees on an individual basis and value their efforts in the bigger picture of the corporate world.

This view is held by the business administration and ethics researchers, Voegtlin and Kaufmann (2012), who highlight empathy as a crucial facet of effective leadership. While it is difficult to map a precise signature of brain activity to certain emotions or capabilities, the areas believed to be implicated in these processes are the rostral anterior cingulate cortex and the anterior insula (Singer et al, 2004). A person uses these for subjectivity and for self-perception – ‘I feel’, ‘I think’. These areas are also important in understanding our own emotional states and those of others.

It is not just a matter of which regions are active, but also which coordinate with each other – known technically as coherence. This is a measurement of synchronous activity, and thereby the degree of interconnectedness, of different brain areas. David A. Waldman has studied leaders who are considered inspirational by their employees, and has found that these subjects exhibit high levels of coherence in the right frontal lobe, an area associated with personality, sociality and decision-making. So what can we take from this? It may be overly reductionist to say that there is a universal neural signature for good leadership. However, by identifying traits which are prominent amongst successful leaders, we can try to implement neurofeedback strategies to develop these in people being trained for leadership roles.

So how do these neurofeedback strategies work?

Neurofeedback is a technique which uses fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) or QEEG (quantitative electroencephalography) technology to measure neural activity in real-time. It then displays the data and allows the user to modify, to some extent, their brain function. Neurofeedback treatment can be carried out in different ways, but a common method employed is where the patient mentally plays a specially designed video game while electrodes attached to their scalp transmit information to a computer.

Positive brain activity in the user is reflected in their being successful in the video game, for example having better control over speed and direction. The brain self-corrects based on the feedback supplied and this is a subconscious process. The user does not have to consciously try to alter their neural activity, as their brain is doing the work for them – absorbing the information and automatically adjusting. Positive reinforcement is a term usually applied to the discipline of psychology, but now it is stretching into the realm of neuroscience. Neurofeedback is essentially behavioural modification at an electrophysiological level.

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Neurofeedback in action

So what exactly is changing in the brain during neurofeedback?

The concept of altering brain function is quite vague. To be more specific, it is the patterns of neural discharge emitted from the brain which are being altered. The number of each type of wave varies in each pattern, and different patterns correspond to different mental states. For instance, when we say we have a high amount of beta activity, this means that brainwaves at a frequency in the range of 12-27Hz (Hertz, or cycles per second) predominate. This occurs when an individual is awake and alert.

The ideal brainwave frequency of a person engaging in neurofeedback will depend on the type of disorder being treated; perhaps the person wants to reduce their anxiety or improve their concentration. The latter is the main goal in combating ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and this is usually achieved by decreasing the number of theta waves and increasing the number of beta waves, resulting in the patient being more alert and able to concentrate better.

How effective is neurofeedback?

A quick search on neurofeedback on the internet yields many scientific papers extolling the virtues of the therapy for increasing cognitive performance. It has shown promise in the medical world, for the treatment of conditions such as depression, addiction, insomnia and even epilepsy. Neurofeedback is also now being incorporated into training to help musicians, athletes and businesspeople exert more control over their brain activity. For the latter group, the technique increases concentration and the ability to keep calm in stressful situations, highly useful attributes for all leaders in business.

Furthermore, it has been implemented in couples therapy in order to strengthen communication and empathy between partners. With this in mind, neurofeedback seems like an ideal training exercise for promoting better leadership. The Leipzig Graduate School of Management seems to think so, having incorporated neurocoaching sessions into their Global Executive MBA programme. Steven Poelmans, one of the lecturers, believes that neurofeedback really can give us a good insight into our professional strengths and weaknesses, as “the most constructive feedback is the feedback we give ourselves…(and) the more developed our inner observer is, the better managers we make”.

But can the brain really be changed?

Well, it is important to note that our genetics do not have a monopoly over this powerful organ; it is highly susceptible to environmental feedback and even the adult brain retains a surprising degree of plasticity. Neuroplasticity is important for memory storage, recovery after brain injury, and learning new skills, amongst many other processes. Evidence for this can be seen in the application of neurofeedback practices for people with neurological and psychological deficits. It has been shown to increase emotional connection in children who have been subjected to neglect during critical developmental periods and also in autistic individuals. These improvements in empathy, as well as focus and creativity, pave the way to greater emotional and innovative intelligence, respectively. It is certainly exciting that we are living in a time where it is possible to visually depict the electrical activity correlating with certain mental processes, and use this to change the way we relate to and connect with other minds.

What does the future hold for neurofeedback?

While neurofeedback can help us to exert some degree of emotional self-regulation, it cannot be used to dictate our thoughts or give us a specific personality – which is of course a good thing. Simply put, it can be used to enhance desirable characteristics in individuals – drive, empathy, level-headedness – thereby allowing them to become better leaders. As Buchan would say, the good qualities are already there, they just need to be coaxed out.

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Edelman Trust Barometer 2015: low British public trust in media, government and business

by Ingrida Andrijauskaite

Edelman Trust Barometer 2015: low British public trust in media, government and business

A few days ago the most recent findings of the Edelman Trust Barometer Survey were revealed. The survey was executed by research firm Edelman Berland and sampled 27,000 general population respondents with an oversample of 6,000 informed publics ages 25-64 across 27 markets. The main focus was dedicated to the government, business and media sectors.

Some of the findings of this survey were that:

  • The UK is drifting in the ‘trust doldrums’, with trust in government, business and media flatlining.
  • Trust in the UK media has stagnated, as people blame publications for the media mishaps of 2014, which were rooted in commercial interests being prioritised over public interests.

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The CEO of Edelman’s, Ed Williams, made the following comment: “Key institutions in the UK such as Government, Media and Business have had a better year than previous ones but that has not been converted into increased levels of trust”. He also added that:

There is no doubt that we are stuck in a rut.  There is a real danger that the years of continuing low trust have permanently rewired our attitudes towards the institutions that shape our lives. It‘s becoming increasingly difficult for us to navigate out of the trust doldrums.”

(More information here: http://edelmaneditions.com/2015/01/edelman-trust-barometer-2015/).

The British public distrust the Media the most

The results of the survey of Edelman Trust Barometer reveal that British public mainly don’t trust the media. This trust registered at 38%  this year, which is 4%  less than 2014. It shows that the trust society has in the media is very poor and becoming worse.

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The statistics of the Edelman Trust Barometer show us that the trust the British public has in the government has slightly increased this year – 43%  a 1% increase from the previuos year. This data reveals that increases in distrust in business, government, NGOs and media coincided with the period of financial crisis. We may assume that, from 2012 year, trust in all of these organizations started slowly increasing. However the statistics of the Edelman Trust Barometer for this year are surprising.

Perhaps these results show us that the media was too strongly trusted prior to the financial crisis. During this time, people all over the world realised that they couldn’t find all the answers in the information presented by the media.

 The reasons for public distrust in media

One point could be that society has started to question the merchantability of the media and the reliability of the sources of information.

An example could be “promotional articles”. The companies try to find the best way how to promote their services or products in the newspapers and other media channels.

The main problem with these “promotional articles” is that they are generally prepared by unidentified advertisers, with no mention of the author or sources of information. This doesn‘t help in conveying a message of authenticity and reliability to readers.

The companies which are using “promotional articles” as a means of communicating their brand‘s message and informing the public about their product, do so in order that readers may be persuaded to buy what they are offering.

The public want to see a border between journalism and advertisiment as now it is very difficult to see information in the media which is unadulterated by the interests of the government, certain companies or individuals.

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The media theorist and academic Hugo de Burgh is keeping the position that the digitalization and commercialisation has the strongest and most damaging impact on journalism. He claims that today the media aims not only to maintain the attention of the readers, but also present events in such a way as to compete with advertising.

Journalist Kate Magee has said that some of reasons for the British distrust in the media lie in scandals such as the phone-hacking incident in 2011 and the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal in 2012.[1]

As the journalist K. Magee mentioned, more than 60% of respondents in 2014 said that their trust in the media is lower than for the other sectors due to immoral behaviour (38%) and a lack of regulation (23%). The second factor also has an influence on ethics. People are increasingly noticing the lack of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity and impartiality in the media channels such as newspapers or TV. These are considered to be the ethical standards and principles of Journalism.

This survey of the Edelman Trust Barometer potently exemplifies that the public consistently follow events and don’t miss or forgive the mistakes of the media. Each negative error has a strong effect on future public trust in the media.

[1] http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/news/1228324/

Journalism without borders: ethical dilemmas?

by Ingrida Andrijauskaite

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Journalism without borders: ethical dilemmas?

The doctor comes to the hospital ward and says to the patient:

  • Patient, I have some news for you – good and bad. Which do you want to hear first?
  • No, just tell me the bad news, I don’t want to hear the good news at all – the patient said
  • Why? – the doctor asked
  • You see, I am a journalist!

This anecdote assumes that this is the reality of journalism now. Journalists want to show and inform us about the bad news, because it‘s said that good news is not as interesting for people as bad news is. The media lends great attention to the topics related to death, violence, acts of terrorism, war, natural disasters. Ethics is sometimes absent from decisions concerning how to show these  news stories to the general public.

Often, the media intends to shock or cause controversy with the features it shows. Let’s look at an example – the very popular TV serial “Family Guy”. Every scene includes black humour with shocking, satirical content. An important part of this is devoted to the TV news, with the anchors Tom Tucker and Diane Simmons only presenting negative or unbelievable news.

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The authors of “Family Guy” have made an effort to show that the media is not just showing too much populist, cheap information, but also that it focuses attention to news which is controversial. This TV show implies that journalists don’t care about ethics.

In reality, the majority of journalists confront ethical dilemmas in their jobs; theoretically it is easy to comply with the rules of ethics, but it’s more complex in practice. Amongst communities of professional journalists, there is an ongoing debate about the need for ethical practice, but it is still difficult to find actionable solutions to ethical issues.

One of the dilemmas facing journalists is freedom of speech. Quite often, there is arguably a fine line between morality and immorality when it comes to telling the truth.

Lithuanian media professor Audrone Nugaraite has said, that “Journalism is telling the truth and building the community. These values are fundamental for the new media channels. The future of journalism is inseparable from ethics, because otherwise there wouldn‘t be democracy. Ethical value is growing, and the practice needs to be shaped with examples in law.”

Effective criteria for the Media news

Today, one of the most important things to do is look around and see what the Media looks like without borders.

The main objective for creating the news remains the same – it’s purpose is not just to be informative, but also to have emotional impact on people.

If we are more interested in how the media generates the news, we can find a lot of different criteria to be considered. For example the scientists Brooks, Kenedy, et al. distinguish the main values of  knowledge criteria for the news:

  • impact (how and how much the “event” touches a person and his/her feelings. Theoretically, the higher the level of the impact created by an event, the more significant it is);
  • proximity (people are interested in events which geographically closer to them);
  • timeliness (the event must be completely new, so that the news is useful to the public. It also must be prepared in time);
  • uniqueness (in the news, there must be something novel, unique and unusual);
  • human interest (empathy for the successes and celebrations, or failures and hardships, of other people);
  • tension (people should be interested in how the story progresses; what will happen in the end);

Another ethical issue mentioned by the media professional is social media. Social networks are progressively having a greater impact on journalists, as now these channels are used extensively for finding materials.

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     The impact of Social media on Journalism

We can see that journalists actively use social media channels, like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc., as these platforms help them to learn more quickly about events from different countries.

On the one hand, it is very good that traditional media such as TV, newspapers and radio actively use the virtual information space, as it allows for quick transmission of news and an easy way to source stories. But what about the authenticity of this information? Often the views shown to us via TV or social media channels are very unethical.

Social media allows for journalists to find great stories more quickly, but here begins one of the problems – the majority of journalists don’t stop to research events more thoroughly and they don’t conduct a proper analysis.

Journalists “catch” short news from Twitter or other social media platforms and then rush to report this. Reporters try to find some people who can provide them general information, so they do an interview and write a small amount of text, with most of the feature devoted to a video, which clearly has to be memorable.

Often journalists forget about rules or disciplines of ethics, because they’re focused on the search for  the “best” news.

The example of “Charlie Hebdo”  

All of Europe are still reeling from the terrorist attacks in France. A lot of media channels have spoken about them in the French satirical weekly magazine “Charlie Hebdo”. But the main information was provided in the form of primary sources, with video footage. For example, engineer Jordi Mir posted a short video on Facebook, which recorded the cold-blooded murder of a Parisian policeman by a terrorist in the street.

The news agency “The Associated Press” published this footage as proof of the horrific event. This short video has become the most shocking depiction of the French three-day drama that began the mass slaughter and ended in the deaths of four hostages and three terrorists. This video has caused worldwide outrage. British tabloids called it “shocking” and “a cause of disgust”.

This story is an example of social media ethics today, with people trying to “catch” everything which is unusual, unbelievable or shocking and then sharing this with others users of social networks, either as evidence or just for the sake of novelty. Later they may regret sharing this content.

As engineer Jordi Mir explained, it was his ten years of experience using social media which gave him the habit of sharing everything he saw. And he is not the only person who is like this – a lot of people use social networks to share everything that is happening to them. They are a virtual second life for many people.

Unfortunately, journalists actively follows social networks too and sometimes it doesn’t care whether newsworthy videos or images were acquired ethically. If they concern important events and attract attention, they will be showed openly in order to provide viewers with the facts.

Perhaps, we can’t solely blame the media for every slip in ethics, because she shows the reality of the world in which we all live these days.

Ethical Leadership: Women do better!

Ethical Leadership: Women do better!

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Today, I opened door n° 68 at 9:15 am. I took a seat and made a coffee.

There were ten people working this morning, eight of them were women. Mothers, wives or girlfriends. But it seemed everyone had something in common: a potential for ethical leadership.

According to a study at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, women are less ready to compromise their ethical values for money and social status.

It sounds good, but let’s try to understand why and how.

Firstly, ethical leadership is about understanding your core values and having the courage to express them in all parts of your life, in service of the common good.

It starts with an inner journey, in search of values which define one’s own identity, developing a vision as a frame to articulate one’s actions, and finally, finding the voice with which to express it, in order to lead the whole community.

It sounds like this person would be organised, with a deep commitment to her priorities, able to juggle work and everyday life, never once taking their eyes off their goals, always ready to serve others, following a moral code. It looks almost like a portrait of a mother.

Supporting this thesis, Liz Earle, British entrepreneur, but foremost a mother of five children, reveals that the working mothers’ approach is the key to success in an interview released in the Irish Times on 30th September 2014.

She told the Irish Times: “I always say if you want something done well ask a woman, but if you want something done really well and fast, ask a busy woman.”

According to Liz, women are able to think faster than men, because they naturally have to do so. She co-founded the Liz Earle Beauty Company in 1995 when she was a young, working mother, sold it fifteen years later to Avon. Today, it is a global brand with 600 employees.

Jessica Kennedy, the paper’s lead researcher and a post-doctoral fellow in Legal Studies and Business Ethics at Wharton, said: “It is the very need of ethics that is driving many of us to talk about bringing the ‘feminine’ relational characteristics to the masculine ‘wield power’ characteristics of the workplace.”

Nevertheless, the headline of a global development article on the Guardian, entitled “Women are better off today, but still far from being equal with men”, explains that, despite the improvement in women’s role, in both industry and government, the faces remain stubbornly male. According to the statistics, the number of women owning a small and medium-sized business is estimated to be between 8 and 10 million.

An article in The Independent published on of the 28th September reports the initiative of one of the world’s leading executive headhunters, Egon Zehnder, to end the male dominance in the boardrooms of the UK’s top firms. Under the guidance of Miranda Pode, the managing director, Egon Zehnder has promised to re-organise the male-dominated executive roles, to push women to the top of the UK’s FTSE 100 companies.

Currently, there are just five women covering the big boss role, such as Carolyn McCall of Easyjet, Véronique Laury of Kingfisher and Olivia Garfield of Severn Trent.

It seems women cover support roles but are far from the leadership of a company.

You could ask me why. I could reply to you with another question that could be useful for reflection. If it is true that women are potential ethical leaders, following core values in their actions in the business more than men, the lack of female faces at the top of companies leaves open some questions:

  • Is ethics still a taboo in developing business topics?
  • Considering the wish to renovate the male-dominated executive positions, can ethics and business work together to innovate the old view of business?
  • Can following a moral code save the business or is it just blocking the interests of other parties?
  • Can core values and showing the emotional side of a company create an engaging environment in the office and transmit it to the clients?
  • Can clients be more engaged, feel like a part of a community, be more mindful of their real necessities?

If the answer to all the questions above is yes, it means you are ready to start the change. Put the business in the hands of a woman, she will make sure it is successful.