In light of the IPO's and subsequent performances of Facebook, Groupon, Zynga, etc., there has been renewed discussion in the Silicon Valley of whether having two classes of common stock, which places control of the Board in the hands of the founders and not the investors, benefits the investors or just entrenches management.
The Silicon Valley Directors' Exchange offers a panel on the question March 21. Moderating will be Ethics Center Executive-in-Residence James Balassone. Panelists are Andy Shapiro, founder and CEO of Lawndale Capital Management; Katie Martin, senior partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati specializing in corporate and securities law; and Janice Hester Amey, a portfolio manager at CalSTRS in its corporate governance group.
Jay Mumford, vice president of the Ethisphere Institute, talks about three generations of ethics codes and how corporate codes have changed form over time. He is interviewed by Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson.
Ken Baylor, an expert on cybersecurity, outlines the dangers facing companies from security breaches. Baylor, the vice president for research at NSS, talks with Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson about some of the ethical issues that arise as more and more companies are subjected to cyber attacks.
Joe Grundfest, former SEC commissioner and Stanford professor, argued that the key to ethical decision making mostly lies in the determination of what is "smart," when he spoke to a recent meeting of the Center's Business and Organizational Ethics Partnership.
Read about his debate with Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson, who countered, "We ethicists have to raise an objection. As a business executive, to say something is not smart "from a self-interested, capitalist view, I am not going to be sensitive to all the ethical questions that I may face. I'm going to miss many more of these that you claim are not smart, because I'm not asking the ethical question" as it relates to all of the stakeholders involved in the decision.
Students from Jesuit business schools at Santa Clara University, Ateneo de Manila, and Loyola Institute of Business Administration in Chennai embark today on an online dialog about issues in business ethics. The Global Dialog on Business Ethics blog kicks off with a discussion of who is responsible for the Dhaka factory fire in Bangladesh.
Created by Hackworth Business Ethics Fellows and SCU seniors Alexis Babb, Amanda Nelson, Saayeli Mukherji, and Noah Rickling, the blog will explore business ethics dilemmas that cross national boundaries. The first post asks whether multinational companies are responsible for the safety conditions in factories that are part of their supply chain.
There are still some spots left in the Massive Open Online Course being offered beginning Feb. 25 by Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson, Business Ethics for the Real World. Three hundred and forty four people have already registered, and the course is limited to 500.
The first four-week module defines ethics and explains a 10-step process for making ethical decisions. Hanson outlines the concept of "unavoidable ethical dilemmas," that is, ethical problems that can be predicted based on the obligations people incur from their roles in the company, be they managers, executives, marketers, accountants, and so forth.
With the advent of bounty awards for whistleblowers offered under the The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, some employees are now motivated to go outside their companies to blow the whistle on corporate wrong-doing.
Henry "Hank" Shea, professor of law at St. Thomas University and former federal prosecutor, argues that this provision can serve as a wake-up call for companies in this video conversation with Ethics Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson. Shea recommends that managers ask, "Are we doing everything possible to have our people come to us first?" Organizations, Shea says, should welcome the type of person who asks, "Why are we doing it this way? Is this the fairest way to serve our customers?"
A group of SCU seniors, all Hackworth Business Ethics Fellows at the Center, are creating a set of business ethics cases based on the experiences of Santa Clara Alumni. As they explain in a letter to alumns, " We are seeking these cases in order to help SCU students, alums, and others working in business here in Silicon Valley and beyond to be the most ethical business persons they can be and to build a culture of ethics one good decision at a time wherever they work."
The cases will be featured on a new, dynamic website. "With this website," the students write, "we want to create a moral community of persons readier to do the right thing and to encourage their colleagues to do the right thing, too."
Cases will all be altered to protect the identities of the people involved. The students are happy to interview alums at their convenience in order to prepare the cases. Such an interview would take from a half-hour to 45 minutes and cover three questions: What was the ethical dilemma at the root of the case? Could you describe both sides of the dilemma -- that is, the different values pulling at you as you dealt with the case? And how did you resolve the case?
If you are interested in participating in this project, please contact the fellows at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maintaining independence and avoiding conflicts of interest at the board level is a significant challenge, says Daniel Cooperman, Of Counsel with the Bingham McCutchen law firm. Cooperman served as senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of Apple Inc. and senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary of Oracle Corp. He is the immediate past President of the Association of General Counsels, served on the board of several software trade associations, is a director of emerging technology companies, and teaches at Stanford Law School.
In this four-part video conversation with Kirk Hanson, executive director at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Cooperman details the duties and responsibilities of corporate board members to establish and protect their independence, and the importance of avoiding actual and perceived conflicts of interest. The two explore both the legal and ethical requirements of public board members in a complex and inter-related world.