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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
Why Government Employees Should Take a Required Course in Ethics What should we make of the apparent ties between the Clinton Global Initiative (Clinton Foundation) and the Clinton State Department? Some of the reports I've seen allege over 50% of the people that met with Clinton donated to the Foundation.... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Workplace Ethics Advice
Ethical Failings: Unprincipled Behavior and not Accepting Responsibility The only thing Ryan Lochte is sorry for is getting caught. The 12-time Olympic medalist in swimming disgraced the U.S. and disrespected the people of Brazil when he concocted a story about being robbed at gun point with the gun held to his head. His disgraceful behavior included pulling down a sign at a gas station, urinating behind the station, lying about the incident, and playing the victim game. His actions demonstrate a lack of character that should lead to being banned from further Olympic competition, fines, and a loss of endorsements... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Ethics Sage
Mike: These are good points. Perhaps the firms need a dose of reality from the PCAOB/SEC as they seemingly revert to old behaviors. Steve
Independence Impairments Threaten the Public Interest The accounting profession has lost its way and has reverted to old behaviors, including increased commercialism, and created a worrisome trend of deficient audits. It may be time to change the regulatory regime and completely prohibit the performance of all non-audit services for audit... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Why we have Lost our Moral Compass I have blogged many times before about the loss of a moral compass in society. It goes much deeper than simply not being able to distinguish right from wrong. It goes to the very core of our being. Many people don’t even know what it means to have common sense and be decent in dealings with others. Perhaps the reason is the social-media-driven culture that does not lend itself to interpersonal communications and interaction. Let’s face it, you can only do so much to demonstrate ethical intent and the ability to treat others... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2016 at Ethics Sage
The Ethics of Providing a ‘Living Wage’ We’ve heard a lot this campaign season about what the minimum wage should be. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. For most of us this is troubling because we can’t fathom someone trying to make ends meet on an annual salary... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
An Ethical Evaluation of Actions by WikiLeaks and Snowden The New York Times reports that while both Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks may both support the dissemination of government secrets, they seem to disagree on how best to do it. On July 28, 2016, Snowden, the former government contractor who released a trove of National Security Agency documents and now lives in exile in Russia, credited WikiLeaks, a clearinghouse for similar disclosures, with furthering the cause of transparency but also criticized its unfiltered approach. Snowden said on Twitter: “Democratizing information has never been more vital, and @WikiLeaks has helped. But their... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2016 at Ethics Sage
How to Identify Bullying Behavior by Employees Workplace Bullying refers to repeated, unreasonable actions of individuals (or a group) directed towards an employee (or a group of employees), which are intended to intimidate, degrade, humiliate, or undermine, or which create a risk to the health or safety of the employee(s)... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Kill the Messenger Syndrome and the DNC "#DemExit" refers to Sanders delegates walking out of the DNC and is an appropriate title for this blog because the hacking incident referred to in this blog may have contributed to Sanders losing to Clinton and stoked the anger of those delegates. The “Kill the Messenger Syndrome” refers to the desire to ‘kill’ the person who is the bearer of bad news that the receiving party does not want to hear. It happens in business when a whistle-blower comes forth and informs top management of a financial fraud only to be retaliated against... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2016 at Ethics Sage
Ethics and Civility Go Hand in Hand Incivility in society and in the workplace is on the rise. Virtually all people believe this is so. Every day we witness inconsiderate behavior, ‘in your face’ interaction in communications with others, and other forms of rudeness. There are many causes of incivility... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2016 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Did Ted Cruz Say the ‘Right’ Thing at the Republican Convention? What makes for a principled person? McNabb points out that usually, when someone is called a ‘person of principle’ it means a person who faithfully follows their principles or set of principles rather than abandoning them when convenient. If faced with a seemingly difficult decision in life, that person will refer to his or her guiding set of principles and then merely deduce the correct action from it. If on rare occasions such principled people do not behave according to their principles, they would consider such actions to be... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2016 at Ethics Sage
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 Jul 22, 2016 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 Jul 21, 2016 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 Jul 19, 2016 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 https://we.tl/M4Wfff0NW4 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