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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
Reasons and Rationalizations for Unethical Conduct Are there specific signs to look for of impending collapse of an organization? In her book The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse, Marianne Jennings analyzes the indicators of possible ethical collapse in companies and provides advice how to avoid impending disaster. Jennings starts with... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Workplace Ethics Advice
The Lost Art of Integrity in Business and Accounting Doing the right thing and blowing the whistle do not always pay off and can be an arduous task. A case in point is what happened to Anthony Menendez in his whistle-blowing ordeal at Halliburton. One day in February 2006, Menendez... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Workplace Ethics Advice
A Changing Societal Ethic is Behind Recent Tragic Events Why did it happen? Who is to blame? How can we prevent a re-occurrence? These are questions that haunt me in the aftermath of the murder of five police officers and two civilians in Dallas just a couple of weeks ago and last Sunday when three police were lured to their death in Baton Rouge. And, they have haunted me for many months since Michael Brown was shot dead followed by Tamar Rice, Freddie Gray, and, most recently, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. To me, this is not a black issue... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Ethics Sage
The Act of Whistle-blowing: Ethical Issues Examined Are you thinking about becoming a whistle-blower under a federal law such as the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)? You best first understand that any amount you receive is treated as ordinary taxable income by the IRS.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Tuition-Free Public Education vs. the Importance of Developing a Work Ethic and Grit Last week presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, stole a play from Bernie Sanders’ playbook and proposed that public higher education be offered tuition free to all who are from families with incomes of up to $125,000. Estimates are that about 80 percent of American families would be able to avoid tuition at public colleges and universities. Clinton’s plan would start with students from families earning up to $85,000 a year and gradually lift the income threshold until it reaches $125,000, which the campaign said would happen by... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2016 at Ethics Sage
Character-Based Leadership Underlies Ethical Decision-Making When we think about workplace ethics, the first thing that comes to mind is a code of conduct that influences the development of an ethical culture in the workplace. A code goes beyond what is legal for an organization and provides normative guidelines for ethical... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Cost-Benefit Analysis Can’t Hide Unethical Behavior by Car Companies Finally, an agreement with German car maker Volkswagen AG. On June 28, the automaker agreed to spend up to $14.7 billion to resolve federal and state civil allegations of cheating on emissions tests and lying to customers. The company has admitted that it rigged diesel vehicles using a "defeat device" to pass emissions tests. VW’s “Defeat Device” VW allegedly equipped its 2.0-liter diesel vehicles with illegal software that detects when the car is being tested for compliance with EPA or California emissions standards and turns on full emissions controls only during... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2016 at Ethics Sage
Do Non-GAAP Financial Metrics and Forward-Looking Information Better Reflect Economic Realities? In accounting, the rules say that financial statement information should be prepared under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). GAAP numbers are the holy grail of financial report information because they represent standards of practice that have been sanctioned by... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Should College Professors Assign Papers to Improve Content on Wikipedia? Should college professors assign Wikipedia content reviews and edits for course credit? It is an important question because traditionally most college freshmen are told that they shouldn't use Wikipedia. It’s an unacceptable source for term papers and to assign students a project to check the accuracy and reliability of information on such a site makes me wonder whether professors in their ivory towers have lost perspective on what the purpose of writing is. In a recent example, students at Emerson College are responsible for Wikipedia's "theatre and disability" page. The... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at Ethics Sage
Why not Date in the Workplace? Dating in the Workplace an Increasingly Common Occurrence Years ago the idea of dating a co-worker was frowned upon because of the potential conflict of interests and the possibility of a sexual harassment charge if the relationship breaks down. I believe this to be... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Who is to Blame for Lack of Achievement in Math and Science? The Pew Research results of a study of achievement in math and science that compares high school students around the world clearly show U.S. students are lagging behind their counterparts. The question is why. Who is to blame for these disappointing results and how can we, as a nation, turn the tide? Here are the results for the top countries followed by the results for the U.S.: Country Math Science Singapore 573 551 Hong Kong 561 555 Taiwan 560 523 South Korea 554 538 Japan 536 547 Liechenstein... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2016 at Ethics Sage
The Role of Organizational Culture in Ethical Decision Making Last week I blogged about whether ‘business ethics’ is an oxymoron. While I concluded it was not, at least any more than in most endeavors in life, I did not point out ethical dilemmas sometimes bringing companies down. The reason is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Challenges of Teaching Ethics to Accounting Students I was recently interviewed by CPA Australia on my views as they pertain to the challenges of teaching ethics to accounting students. I address a variety of points including what it means to be an accounting professional and how we can, as educators, help students learn how to voice their values when pressures exist from one's superior or client to do otherwise. The podcast download link is: Download link Blog posted by Steven Mintz on June 15, 2016. Dr. Mintz is Emeritus Professor from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He also blogs... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2016 at Ethics Sage
Reclaiming ‘The Golden Rule’ Acting ethically has become a lost art. Most people do not stop and think whether they are about to do the “right” thing before making a decision when conflicting interests exist. For example, Joe Paterno at Penn State failed to act on information that his assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, was abusing young children. Was this the right thing to do or the most expeditious one for Penn State and its football program? Did he fail to act and protect the most vulnerable among us? The Golden Rule is the basis for modern ethics. The Golden... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2016 at Ethics Sage
James, thanks for the recommendation. Your support is always appreciated...Steve
What is the ‘Greater Good’ in Business? People never will stop repeating this cliché because, deep down, we know that it's not always easy to be ethical—in business or anywhere else in life! Sometimes it's hard to know what the right thing to do is. Because modern life is complex... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Cognitive Dissonance and Ethical Decision-Making A highly ethical person knows his or her values, principles and beliefs. Those values, principles and beliefs would then determine one’s actions when faced with an ethical dilemma. A person who does not understand or fully know his or her values, principles and beliefs, might act in an ethical situation without thinking through the consequences to others, known as System 1 thinking, rather than first considering how our actions affect others, or System 2 thinking. Later on, rationalizations may be used to reconcile actions to ethical beliefs and reduce cognitive dissonance, that is, the disconnect... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2016 at Ethics Sage
Fairness and Loyalty Effects on the Morality of Blowing the Whistle Imagine you’re thinking about blowing the whistle on your employer. You will face a moral quandary: Is reporting misdeeds an act of heroism or betrayal? It makes sense that whistle-blowing brings these two moral values, fairness and loyalty, into... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Why the U.S. Has Lost its Moral Compass? My contention is that a decline in ethical behavior in the U.S. fueled by years of self-serving behavior, profligate spending, and neglect of the average person’s needs has led us down the ethical slippery slope and there may be no turning back. Moral Blindness Moral blindness and ethical fading are key contributors to low moral sensitivity and unethical action. The desire to do what is expedient rather than principled is influenced by one’s moral identity, past experiences, and relational impasses. Given a high tolerance for hypocrisy, insight into experiences that foster moral... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2016 at Ethics Sage
Striking a Work-Life Balance for Women in the Workplace Should Apple and Facebook pay about $20,000 per woman to freeze their eggs and store them? Is this an ethical policy? What about women who are beyond child bearing age? Is it fair that they do not receive $20,000 for other... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Judge Hanen Orders a Halt to Implementation of DACA and DAPA Perhaps you have heard that U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued an opinion five days ago that found that Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers not only lied to him and opposing counsel but “it is hard to imagine a more serious, more calculated plan of unethical conduct.” What is even remarkable however is that, after finding such calculated and unethical conduct, Hanen ordered the lawyers to simply take ethics classes rather than refer them to the bar for suspension or disbarment. Notably, the DOJ is opposing ethical classes as... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2016 at Ethics Sage
The Disappearing Art of the Independent Audit What is it with the accounting profession that now likes to be called professional services companies? Have they lost their way? Have they sacrificed the very value that makes them a profession – and historically a respected one at that – all for... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
'Virtuous' Grit is an Essential Ethical Value Last week I watch a TED presentation by Angela Duckworth who discussed her findings in a 2013 TED Talk, where she defined grit as passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. I realized this was a hot topic when I saw her presentation had 8.5 million views. Duckworth, an assistant professor of psychology at the University... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2016 at Ethics Sage
Jim, thanks for your comments. I totally agree with you...Steve
The Decline of Political Morality Ted Cruz’s fellow senators believe he is selfish. They believe he is out for his own good and that he has had aspirations to be President of the United States since his election to the Senate from Texas just four years ago. Last week we... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice