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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
Ethical Considerations in Assessing the Fairness of CEO Pay On April 4 I read a piece in the Daily Ticker that discusses the trends in CEO pay packages. Led by Gilead Sciences' CEO John Martin's nearly $170 million haul, 10 CEOs took in total compensation of over $60 million in... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Workplace Ethics Advice
Lack of Parenting, Personal Responsibility, and an Entitlement Society Underlies Mass Killings Last Wednesday, emergency responders gathered in the parking lot on the campus of Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville PA, after an attack there left 21 people, nearly all of them students, injured. Most suffered stab wounds or lacerations. Authorities identified the suspect as 16-year-old Alex Hibbal. He is said by police to have begun his rampage just after 7 a.m., when he allegedly burst into a classroom in the science wing brandishing two large butcher knives. Police say he continued to stab and slash as he returned... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Ethics Sage
Does Academic Medical Center Leaders’ Position on the Board of Directors of a Pharmaceutical Company Create a Conflict of Interest? Last week I posted a blog on my other website – – that dealt with whether it is a violation of ethical standards to have leaders of academic medical... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2014 at Workplace Ethics Advice
What Defines the Work Character of the Millennial Generation? Yesterday I read a blog about “How to Motivate Millennials” by Bruce Mayhew that was published in the Huffington Post. Mayhew had received comments from his readers who feel Millennials are not motivated. The comments were in response to a piece he wrote "Work Ethics In The Workplace: Generation Differences." In that piece he provides advice to guide employers how to hire a “Millennial employee that sticks around and actively contributes as a member of your team.” He lays out questions to ask and information to solicit in two broad steps:... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2014 at Ethics Sage
Are Colleges and the NCAA failing our Student-Athletes? Last week’s ruling by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board that players on Northwestern University’s football team were school employees, and thus eligible to unionize, has created a buzz rarely seen in college sports. On the one hand, student-athletes... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2014 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Analyzing the Ethics of Deans and Directors Sitting on Boards of Drug Companies Is it a violation of ethical standards to have leaders of academic medical centers paid for their work and sit on the boards of big drug companies? Does it create a conflict of interest that could taint ethical decision-making? These are the issues addressed in this piece. According to a study by Dr. Walid F. Gellad of the University of Pittsburgh and colleagues that was published online on April 2, 2014 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (, 16 of the 17 largest U.S. pharmaceutical... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2014 at Ethics Sage
Changes to the SAT Miss an Opportunity to Develop Ethical Reasoning Skills Late in life Adam Smith observed that government institutions can never tame and regulate a society whose citizens are not schooled in a common set of virtues. “What institutions of government could tend so much to promote the happiness of mankind as the general prevalence of wisdom and virtue? All government is but an imperfect remedy for the deficiency of these.” In other words, Smith knew that virtue, or traits of character as espoused by the ancient Greeks, are essential to making our free market economy work and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2014 at Ethics Sage
Steven M. Mintz and Roselyn E. Morris, Ethical Obligations and Decision Making in Accounting: Text and Cases McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 3rd edition, October 4, 2013, 512 pages, ISBN-10: 007786221X, ISBN-13: 978-0077862213 Review by W. Steve Albrecht in the Journal of Business Ethics, March 2014 This book written by Mintz and Morris is a combination textbook and casebook. The authors wrote the book to guide business and accounting students through the mine- fields of ethical conflicts they will face throughout their careers and to help insure that their post-graduate profes- sional work meets the highest standards of integrity, independence, and objectivity. The book... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2014 at Ethics Sage
Changes to the SAT Miss an Opportunity to Develop Ethical Reasoning Skills Late in life Adam Smith observed that government institutions can never tame and regulate a society whose citizens are not schooled in a common set of virtues. “What institutions of government could tend so much to promote the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2014 at Workplace Ethics Advice
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in the Workplace? The following is a guest blog by Rebecca Gray, who writes for Harassment in the workplace takes many forms, so protecting employees from unhealthy work environments means acknowledging the many faces of harassment at work. Harassment should be seen as a form... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2014 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Concerns about Dumbing Down Reading and Writing Skills The College Board recently announced that it will overhaul the SAT in 2016. Saying its college admission exams do not focus on the important academic skills, there will be fundamental changes in the exam including ending the longstanding penalty for guessing wrong, cutting obscure vocabulary words and making the essay optional. The latter is disturbing at a time when both college professors and recruiters are criticizing the lack of writing skills of today’s college graduates. The president of the College Board, David Coleman, criticized his own test, the SAT, as becoming disconnected... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2014 at Ethics Sage
What to do about Workplace Bullying Workplace bullying is when one a person or group of people in a workplace single out another person for unreasonable, embarrassing, or intimidating treatment. Usually the bully is a person in a position in authority who feels threatened by the victim, but in some... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2014 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Instilling a Sense of Right and Wrong in the Workplace When I teach business ethics I like to begin with a discussion of the “Ethical Dissonance Model” by Maryjo Burchard that addresses the interaction between the individual and the organization, based on the person-organization ethical fit. This is an important consideration because the ethics of an individual influences the values that one brings to the workplace and decision making, while the ethics (through its culture) of an organization influences that behavior. To keep it simple, I adopt the idea that there can be a dissonance between what is considered ethical... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2014 at Ethics Sage
Cooperation between the Chinese and U.S. Regulators being put to the Test On January 22, 2014, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) Administrative Law Judge Cameron Elliot levied sanctions pursuant to SEC Rule of Practice 102(e) against the Chinese affiliates of the “Big Four” accounting firms for violating Section 106(e) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 by withholding audit documents the SEC requested in the course of enforcement investigations. Judge Elliot censured and suspended the Firms from serving as auditors to companies whose securities are traded in the U.S. for a period of six months. In case you are... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2014 at Ethics Sage
Product Safety Problems in the Auto Industry due to a lack of Integrity in Business Practices Last week I heard that General Motors recalled 1.37 million vehicles sold in the U.S. with a faulty ignition key. Some of those keys, while in the ignition, could inadvertently move out of the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2014 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Should the Federal Minimum Wage be Increased? As you have probably heard, President Obama wants to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over three years and then index it for inflation. He already has signed an executive order increasing the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10. He doesn’t need Congress’ approval to increase that minimum wage but does to make it a national policy. There is a fairness issue in what should be the appropriate level of the minimum wage so that it is a matter of ethics. Workers should be fairly compensated for their work;... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2014 at Ethics Sage
Audit Independence: A Myth or Reality? The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) that oversees public company audits in the U.S. is concerned that auditors are not independent of their clients. Since independence is the bedrock of the profession, any crack in that foundation threatens the value of the audit and there may be consequences for investors and creditors who rely on accurate and reliable financial statements. The concern about audit independence is an old one – whether the performance of non-audit services for an audit client impairs audit independence. For years the profession has claimed that it does not.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2014 at Ethics Sage
Are Companies Getting the Message about the need for Ethics in the Workplace? New findings from the Ethics Resource Center suggest that overall workplace misconduct is on the decline, while other findings suggest there is room for improvement. Workplace misconduct is at a historic low, according to the Ethics Resource... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2014 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Was it Ethically Justified to Remove Justina from her Parent’s Care and ignore the Desired Medical Treatment for their Daughter? How would you feel if your 14-year-old child was taken from you by the state because it believed you were guilty of “medical child abuse,” a term used when parents or other caregivers are suspected of seeking unnecessary or even harmful treatments? That’s what happened to the parents of Justina Pelletier in February 2013 after physicians at Children’s Hospital in Boston surmised that a serious medical problem diagnosed earlier by a doctor at Tufts University was inaccurate and Justina’s problems... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2014 at Ethics Sage
This reposting is from an article published recently in the FTI Journal, titled “Is Business Ethics an Oxymoron?” by Frank Holder, Chairman of FTI Consulting’s Forensic and Litigation Division in Latin America. Scandals. Fines. Show trials. These days, just doing business can appear almost criminal. While government-imposed regulation can soothe the public’s ire, it can also create burdensome costs and competitive disadvantages. To survive, businesses must perform reputational due diligence and create self-policing organizational cultures. The increased incidence of and reporting on global fraud and corruption in business has given rise to two dangerous myths about the cause and cure... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2014 at Ethics Sage
Survey Shows Millennials More Accepting of Workplace Romances I have previously blogged about workplace dating. I recently read about a national poll of young workers taken by Workplace Options that clearly indicates a change in attitude by millennials indicating that dating in the workplace has become a more accepted practice.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2014 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Harassment and Cyberbullying have no place in Sports On February 17 I read a tweet by Richie Incognito that said: “I would like to send Jonathan [Martin] my apologies as well. Until someone tells me different you are still my brother. No hard feelings :)” This email followed others on February 12 that attacked Martin including: “Jonathan Martin told me he thought about taking his own life in MAY 2013 b/c he wasn't playing well. Told me he felt worthless.” “Dear Jon Martin..... The truth is going to bury you and your entire ‘camp’. You could have told the truth... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2014 at Ethics Sage
A guest blog on whether there is a defense to bribery From time to time I receive a comprehensive response to a blog I have written as part of an ethics assignment. The posting below by Jen is in response to one such blog on “UK Firm Fined for Inadequate Controls and Bribe Risks.” The original blog has been shortened to meet size limitations. The first point I would like to comment on is that “you say that ignorance of the law is no defence.” In the UK bribery is seen as an unethical act, therefore just because the management... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2014 at Ethics Sage
Guest Blog on Women, and the Glass Ceiling From time to time I receive a comprehensive response to a blog I have written as part of an ethics assignment. The posting below by Jen is in response to one such blog on “Breaking through the Glass Ceiling.” In your previous... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2014 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Ethics Failures can be attributed to the Culture of the Military Services Last Tuesday the U.S. Navy said it had begun an investigation into whether senior enlisted sailors training on nuclear reactors had been cheating on written tests, adding to the list of recent military cheating scandals. Admiral John M. Richardson, the director of the Navy’s nuclear propulsion programs, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference that the exams the sailors are alleged to have cheated on included classified information. Standing next to him at the same lectern occupied in recent weeks by “disappointed” Air Force officials discussing their own... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2014 at Ethics Sage