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Steven Mintz
United States
My ethics knowledge and wisdom gives me a unique perspective on accounting and business ethics, fraud and whistle-blowing, societal and workplace ethics issues.
Interests: Reading, writing, blogging, ethics advice, traveling, eating, sports
Recent Activity
Excellent advice.
Firms Violating Audit Independence by Engaging in Inappropriate Relationships with Clients I have previously blogged about the increase in commercial activities by the Big-4 CPA firms that jeopardizes independence from audit clients. Many of these relationships create threats to independence that cannot be mitigated by any safeguards. Independence is impaired... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Workplace Ethics Advice
Are American Workers Adequately Trained to Fill High Tech Jobs? The word is out that the Trump administration has drafted an executive order to overhaul the H1-B visa program. Even though it is a move intended to protect American jobs from being shifted to workers from overseas – keeping in line with the American-first policies -- it could have unintended consequences for Silicon Valley and American workers in foreign countries. High technology companies claim they need to hire foreigners to fill jobs Americans are not trained to do. The problem is how to provide those skills and still permit American... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2017 at Ethics Sage
Questions About the Ethics of Millennials’ Social Media Practices The Millennial generation is the largest segment of the workforce (40%) with 75.4 million individuals expected by 2020. Millennials are motivated by different factors than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. Employers need to understand how to motivate Millennials because they bring... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2017 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Thanks, Sabrina, for your comments. It does seem the problem of incivility is a global one. I agree that a good first step is to be better people with those we value as friends and in committed relationships. Please keep on reading and here is a link to my Facebook page in case you are interested: Steve Mintz
Calling all Trekkies You've watch dozens of segments of Start Trek: The Next Generation. But, have you ever stopped to consider the ethics message of the series. It's quite profound, as in the Duty, Honor, and Loyalty segment where Cadet Wesley Crusher is caught in a lie of omission during the investigation of an accident in a training exercise of Nova Squadron. The read the entire blog, go to my website: Please follow me on Facebook: Sign up for the free Newsletter on my website. Steve Mintz, aka Ethics Sage. Posted January 10, 2017. Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2017 at Ethics Sage
This is my last workplace ethics blog of the year. Going forward, this blog site will serve as an archive for my blogs through 2017. My workplace ethics blogs will appear under the “Blog” link on my new website. Please visit my website and sign up for a free Newsletter... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
This is my last blog of the year. Going forward, this blog site will serve as an archive for my blogs through 2017. Please visit my new website, Steven Mintz Ethics, for future blogs and to sign up for a free Newsletter prepared for my loyal followers. HAPPY NEW YEAR! MAY 2017 Bring peace and Happiness to you and yours. The Keys to Doing Good by Being Good You’re probably familiar with the expression: It’s not what you say – it’s how you say it. Communication is about content and delivery. Let’s take assertiveness, a behavioral characteristic that means to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2016 at Ethics Sage
Systems 1 versus Systems 2 Thinking Has anyone ever taken credit for your work? If so, how did you feel? How did you handle it? Were you able to convince your boss of the wrongdoing? These are some of the questions that arise when trying to deal with an unethical... Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Justice as Fairness Gained Through Wisdom, Truth and Knowledge Fair-mindedness entails a conscious effort to treat all viewpoints alike, without reference to one’s own feelings or self-interests, or the feelings of others, such as a friend or organization. Fairness is the underlying element of the philosophical concept of justice. Aristotle defined it more than 2,000 years ago: “equals should be treated equally and unequals unequally.” In other words, individuals should be treated the same unless they differ in ways that are relevant to the situation in which they are involved. For example, if two employees are being considered for a... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2016 at Ethics Sage
Joseph, in that case an accommodation should be made to protect the health and safety of the woman much like would happen for those with a disability. The pregnant woman would not be discriminated against because that entails treating one person or set of persons differently than others when there is no basis to do so. Pregnancy would count for such a basis making accommodation the best way to go.
Developing a Process to Effectuate Change in the Workplace A change agent is someone who alters organizational systems to achieve a higher goal. The goal may be to increase output, alter the corporate culture, or make other changes that improve organizational efficiency. A successful change requires thoughtful deliberation and preplanning... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Wells Fargo and Volkswagen Violated Their Own Code of Ethics Arguably, Wells Fargo is the most unethical company in the U.S. How else can we explain why the company allowed its employees to open more than 2 million unauthorized accounts, sticking customers with almost $2.5 million in fees? On November 25, 2016, Wells Fargo asked the court to allow decisions about dozens of lawsuits filed by customers over fake accounts to be taken outside the court, no doubt to mute the harm done to thousands of customers. An unethical German company with widespread activities in the U.S. is Volkswagen. VW... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2016 at Ethics Sage
Workplace Ethics Advice Readers: Due to my increasing ethics outreach activities, I have developed a new website: Please "Like" my public page by sharing it on social media. My new site serves as a repository for my ethics blogs & activities, and a Newsletter that you can sign up... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Ethics Sage Readers: Due to my increasing ethics outreach activities, I have developed a new website: Please "Like" my public page by sharing it on social media. My new site serves as a repository for my ethics blogs & activities, and a Newsletter that you can sign up for. As of January 1, 2017, my current blog site will serve as an archive for previous blogs and the new site will have my current blogs. Free Speech Rights on College Campuses are Being Stifled In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s victory, some colleges are looking to become sanctuary campuses.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2016 at Ethics Sage
Native American Rights Ignored Once Again It’s my view that very few people care about the rights of Native Americans so it is the media’s job to embed it into our national conscience because of historical rights violations that date back to 1889 when President Benjamin Harrison made the first of a long series of authorizations that eventually removed most of Indian territory from Indian control. The media has routinely failed to champion Native American causes because the potential violations of their rights is not a sexy enough issue for the mainstream media to care. This explains why we have... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2016 at Ethics Sage
“Sons and Daughters” Program Violates FCPA For seven years between 2006 and 2013, J.P. Morgan Chase hired about a hundred interns and full time employees at the request of government officials in China and Asia as part of its efforts to build banking relationships in the fast-growing region. The hiring,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
When to Use Nondisclosure and Non-Compete Agreements Imagine you have “proprietary information or “trade secrets” that are not generally known to the public and would not ordinarily be available to competitors except via illegal or improper means. For example, trade secrets of manufacturing processes, business plans, computer programs, customer lists,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Nourishing our Ethical Self To lead an ethical life, we cannot rely on our feelings no matter how powerful they might be. Our feelings may be irrational and may be the product of prejudice, selfishness, or cultural conditioning. Our decisions must be guided by reason and the (ethical) motivation to do the right thing as we journey through life. Each of us possesses the ability to act in a moral way. Mark Matousek speaks of the concept of a ‘moral organ.’ The strength of our moral organ depends on achieving the goals of right behavior: Are we concerned with harm... Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2016 at Ethics Sage
Strengthening Intuitive-Based Decision Making When faced with an ethical dilemma, how do you respond? Many people simply rely on common sense to reason through the conflict and decide on an appropriate course of action. Many common things are not easy to do and may requires efforts and skills. This is where ethical reasoning methods come in handy by: considering the consequences of one’s actions on stakeholders; evaluating stakeholder rights and our obligations to them; reflecting on intended actions and checking to see basic ethical principles have been followed, such as "First, do no harm" ‘Common-sense ethics’ refers to the pre-theoretical... Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2016 at Ethics Sage
Guidelines for Supporting Colleagues in the Workplace Collegial Ethics (CE) proposes that we support and be fair to colleagues, not only in the day-to-day routine, but also in difficult situations when appropriate. Michael Kuhar first coined the term "collegial ethics." He did so because while interactions with colleagues is essential,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
What Should We Make of Americans Looking to Emigrate from the U.S.? People who are seriously considering leaving the U.S. in the wake of the election seem to me to be acting like petulant children who didn’t get their way and now act out to express their displeasure with the election results. Aren’t these the same people who reviled when Donald Trump said he might not accept the results? How should we react to it? Should we ignore their outburst or send them to their rooms and turn off all electronic devices? In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s victory, thousands... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2016 at Ethics Sage
Mikey, the notions of morals in business does seem wrong since morals depend on personal choices--one's view on abortion, for instance. However, a code of conduct is needed to establish the standards of behavior in business. These would include: how we treat customers, suppliers, and emplpoyees. For example, here is the code of Johnson & Johnson. We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services. In meeting their needs everything we do must be of high quality. We must constantly strive to reduce our costs in order to maintain reasonable prices. Customers’ orders must be serviced promptly and accurately. Our suppliers and distributors must have an opportunity to make a fair profit. We are responsible to our employees, the men and women who work with us throughout the world. Everyone must be considered as an individual. We must respect their dignity and recognize their merit. They must have a sense of security in their jobs. Compensation must be fair and adequate, and working conditions clean, orderly, and safe. We must be mindful of ways to help our employees fulfill their family responsibilities. Employees must feel free to make suggestions and complaints. There must be equal opportunity for employment, development, and advancement for those qualified. We must provide competent management, and their actions must be just and ethical. We are responsible to the communities in which we live and work and to the world community as well. We must be good citizens – support good works and charities and bear our fair share of taxes. We must encourage civic improvements and better health and education. We must maintain in good order the property we are privileged to use, protecting the environment and natural resources. Our final responsibility is to our stockholders. Business must make a sound profit. We must experiment with new ideas. Research must be carried on, innovative programs developed and mistakes paid for. New equipment must be purchased, new facilities provided and new products launched. Reserves must be created to provide for adverse times. When we operate according to these principles, the stockholders should realize a fair return.
Mikey, that's not the way ethicists see it. Ethics refers to standards of behavior that guide one's actions whether in personal or business decisions. People do not pick and choose what ethics are because those standards are immutable. They come from philosophy and religion. People do select their personal values which may differ from time to time and in different business situations. For example, if a business wanted to cheat customers, that is unethical. It violates the ethical standard of honesty. However, such an action may be consistent with the businesses values -- greed.
Doing Good by Being a Good Person What makes one person speak out and blow the whistle on wrongdoing while another remains silent? Is it a “moral sense,” as Thomas Jefferson wrote, that instinctively motivates a person’s thoughts and actions? Is it motivated by avoiding harm to others? The other day a reader sent in a question to my website asking if she should call the authorities on her neighbor who had apparently dumped old containers of household paint in the two acres behind her property that backs up against the reader’s property. The reader knew her neighbor hadn’t... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2016 at Ethics Sage