Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ethics in Vogue

In response to student concerns regarding corporations and how they impact individuals and communities, top business schools are offering courses and activities relating to ethics.

Harvard MBA grads are taking an oath of ethics. So far, almost 20% have signed a student-led pledge that promises, “[they] will act responsibly, ethically and refrain from advancing their ‘own narrow ambitions’ at the expense of others.”

Columbia Business School has an honor code which states, “As a lifelong member of the Columbia Business School community, I adhere to the principles of truth, integrity, and respect. I will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”

“I don’t see this as something that will fade away…It’s coming from the students. I don’t know that we’ve seen such a surge in this activism since the 1960s.” - Diana C. Robertson, professor of business ethics, Wharton University.

It is nice to know tomorrow’s leaders are striving to make the future better. Hopefully, it is not a fad and won’t change with necktie styles.

For the full story, click: A Promise to Be Ethical in an Era of Immorality -,

Hat tip, LESLIE WAYNE, New York Times, Published: May 29, 2009


  1. And then there's the 80% who haven't signed it....

    If you look at the corporate ethics statements of Merck, Pfizer, J&J, AZ, et. al., you will find language for more ethically committed than anything in the Harvard "promise."

    You tell me what that has meant?

  2. If you are interested in the J&J "credo," it can be found here...

    This is the same company that was recently accused of accepting illicit body parts for research purposes and which, according to the New York times, buried risk information about known stroke risks of the Ortho Evra patch.

    The case was the trigger for the NYT's editorial calling preemption a "perverse legal doctrine."

  3. Dispair and MiseryMay 30, 2009 at 5:14 PM

    Oh, great this means that the poor pharmaceutical companies are going to have to fork out even more payola to keep bringing new innovative and life saving drugs and devices to future patients.

    Is it any wonder that the cost of health care is so high?

  4. Humbug, I think the warning letter J&J received from the FDA would look good scotched taped to their Credo.

    They’re all sad news. That’s why no one trusts anyone anymore.

  5. Dear D & M,
    The way they keep digging their own grave, they’re going to have to find new and innovative ways to keep people buying their drugs.


    “We believe that our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses, and patients, to the mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services. In meeting their needs everything we do must be of high quality.”


    “For years, Johnson & Johnson obscured evidence that its popular Ortho Evra birth control patch delivered much more estrogen than standard birth control pills, potentially increasing the risk of blood clots and strokes, according to internal company documents.”

    Estimates are that 50-100 women may have died as a result of the excess estrogen, including girls in their teens.

  7. Talk is cheap. Their actions have shown their first responsibility is to their bottom and their shareholders.

    Maybe that should be in their Credo.

  8. Actually, there is something at the end of the Credo about responsibility to shareholders. So it would just be a cut & paste job.

    Now we know where Band-Aids really come from. And "no more tears".....

  9. I'm one of the HBS grads who signed the oath. I can certainly understand the skepticism. Any 'oath' or 'credo' is meaningless if not followed up with consistent actions. But I decided that it's worth trying to raise the bar for myself and my peers.

    Over 350 of us have signed (>35%), and the number continues to grow, so 20% was just an initial figure. (Lots of people have been away for break and are just now getting the emails)

  10. To dmoon -
    "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

  11. Glad to hear it, dmoon. You'll know better than most of us that even the best intentioned execs need to deal with whatever the prevailing organizational moral culture when they arrive. These things can change, but it usually takes a lot of effort and a lot of committed people--ground-up and top-down--for that to happen.

    Hope you can make it happen!!

  12. It’s a noble start. They have publicly promised the d’moon and, therefore, I believe ‘em.

  13. Pharma is populated with Execs from Harvard MBAs and other such Programs. Perhaps the failing in Pharma reflect what these programs have been "teaching" for decades.


Note - Due to a time out issue with Blogger, you may receive a message that requires you to resend your comment. This will not affect its contents.