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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
Values-based Leadership creates an Ethical Organization Culture Business ethics training in the workplace misses the mark. Traditionally, it looks at the “why” of making ethical decisions but ignores the “how” to get it done. In the real business world, employees may fully understand why it is necessary to act ethically... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Workplace Ethics Advice
Do Employers Violate the Ethical Rights of Employees when using Social Media for Workplace Decisions? The frequent use of technology in the workplace is undeniable as is the monitoring of employee postings in hiring and performance evaluation by employers. Social media sites and accounts can contain some very personal and intimate information about people. Consequently, employers, employees, job applicants, as well as the legal system, are confronting with ever-increasing frequency the growth and proliferation of social media, and the challenges and difficulties presented by the use of social media and the modern-day workplace. The extensive use of social media in... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Ethics Sage
SEC Agreement with KBR over treatment of Whistle-blower Strengthens Dodd-Frank Whistle-blowing has become a more accepted practice in business in order to stem the tide of financial fraud and other criminal offenses by corporations in the aftermath of the passage of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act by Congress in 2010.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2015 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Culture and Corporate Conscience Understanding the interaction between culture, behavior, ethics and performance is essential to establishing an ethical tone at the top. The culture established in a community, such as a community of corporate leaders and their organizations, reflects shared beliefs, norms and values that define what is important and what is appropriate for those who choose to join the community. To establish an ethical culture, four questions should be asked: 1. What are the goals and purposes of the organization? 2. What strategies need to be implemented to achieve those objectives? 3. What kind of behaviors will support... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2015 at Ethics Sage
What is the link between Civility and Ethics? Incivility in society 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 not the least... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2015 at Workplace Ethics Advice
What is the moral message of the movie, Insurgent? The movie Insurgent, the second in the Divergent series, raises all kinds of ethical questions, many of which make it a worthwhile film to see. Overall, it deals with the “big brother” is watching theme. The government oversees population factions based on common values, a classification system meant to create a pathway toward civility in the aftermath of a period of destructive forces in society. These factions and their related moral features include: Dauntless: Demeanor: Bold, daring, intense; Values: Courage, Bravery Abnegation: Demeanor: Reserved/unassuming, not drawing too much attention, lack of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2015 at Ethics Sage
Principles of Ethical Behavior in Business Why is it important to act ethically in the workplace? Who cares? What does it cost? Is it worthwhile? These are some of the questions typically addressed by businesses that strive to live up to a set of ethical standards. Ethical business practices include... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2015 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Personal Values and Organizational Culture are the Foundation of Whistle-blowing The ethics of whistleblowing is a tricky matter. Whistle-blowing brings two moral values, fairness and loyalty, into conflict. Doing what is fair or just (e.g., promoting an employee based on talent alone) often conflicts with showing loyalty (e.g., promoting a longstanding but unskilled employee). Taken to its extreme from a loyalty perspective, whistle-blowing may involve agonizing conflicts when, for example, it involves violating the trust of co-workers who have engaged in wrongdoing or jeopardizing one’s “team player” status by going against the prevailing winds in an organization that fosters unethical... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2015 at Ethics Sage
Weary, I'd tell him all about what is going on and ask for his support to speak to her. If he doesn't, then the handwriting is on the wall and it might be best to move on. Good luck, Steve Mintz
Republicans Can’t Get Out of Their Own Way Albert Einstein famously defined “insanity” as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This suits the Republicans latest effort to run an end run around President Obama and embarrass him, and all Americans, on the International stage.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2015 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Beware the Warning Signs of Narcissism in your Kids Is it true that constantly telling your kids they're special can make them especially susceptible to narcissism? Are we raising a generation of narcissistic kids who think only about themselves all of the time and feel a sense of entitlement? Well, a new study released by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that narcissists aren’t born. There is no gene for narcissism. What’s worse, self-centered children are likely to grow up into self-centered adults. This means that narcissism -- a self-centeredness which the study defines as feeling superior... Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2015 at Ethics Sage
Using the Giving ‘Voice to Values’ Approach to teaching Ethics to College Students I fear that another scandal in business may be just around the corner. A federal regulator recently said increased risk is creeping back into the financial system, warning in a report that U.S. banks are relaxing loan-underwriting... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2015 at Workplace Ethics Advice
The Logic of Spock Trekkies like myself are still recovering from the death of the beloved Vulcan character in the original Star Trek series, Spock. Incredibly played by Leonard Nimoy who died ten days ago, Spock leaves us with many philosophical statements that cause us to reflect on the value of a human life. The most memorable, of course, is: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. This statement was made by Spock in The Wrath of Khan. Spock says, “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2015 at Ethics Sage
Good Corporate Citizenship is an Ethical Value The following guest blog is by Christopher Bauer. It addresses several issues relevant to ethics in the workplace. There is much to be said for good corporate citizenship. The more companies that make clear and dedicated efforts to put their time and money... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2015 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Competency in Government and Moral Hazard Have you filed your income taxes for 2014 using an incorrect tax statement, known as 1095-A, that shows the value for local health care premiums related to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)? Some of you may have owed more taxes had you received the correct statement because you under-estimated your 2014 income thereby receiving a larger heath care premium from the government than you were entitled to. Those premiums could have been used to reduce the costs of insurance under the program by having the tax credit amount paid directly to the insurance company... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2015 at Ethics Sage
Should Women have a more prominent role as CFOs? Women should be given a more prominent role to play in top management especially when it comes to the CFO position. That is the proposition I am putting forth in this blog. If we take a look at the organizational structure... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2015 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Spotting the Red Flags is Key to Fraud Prevention and Detection All companies are vulnerable to fraud, but small businesses are particularly vulnerable because decision-making and other responsibilities are often concentrated in a few key positions. Small business owners tend to be overly-trusting of employees, especially those in sensitive financial... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2015 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Why is American Sniper such a Phenomenon? The debate continues whether the movie The American Sniper portrays a real American hero, Chris Kyle, or a racist who was out to kill as many Iraqis as possible without regard for the value of a human life, with hatred in his heart, and with nothing resembling a moral compass. The movie has become an American phenomenon in the one month since its release and now is the highest grossing war movie since Saving Private Ryan. The support for the story of Chris Kyle is compelling. The underlying reason, I believe, is the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2015 at Ethics Sage
Basic Standards of Behavior in the Workplace Lagging the Influence of the Internet and Social Media Are manners and civility missing from the workplace? According to a recent survey by Kessler International, the answer is a resounding yes. This comes as no surprise to me because today’s workers grew up... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2015 at Workplace Ethics Advice
Civil Discourse is an Important value in the Academy This is the third of a three-part series on the ethics of academics. My blog on February 4 dealt with politically correct speech on college campuses. On February 9, I examined Harvard University's ban on sexual relationships between professors and undergraduates. Today I look at civility on campus. I feel fortunate to be teaching at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where a culture of ethics and civility permeates activities on campus and relationships with colleagues. The tone is set at the top and, for me, it is the ethical tone that... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2015 at Ethics Sage
FLA: Thanks for choosing my blog to write about. I agree with most of what you say about loyalty. You do not, however, identify the stakeholders who are affected by this kind of action a company might take that is illegal -- i.e., misappropriation of assets and financial fraud -- and how these stakeholders are affected. Stakeholder analysis is an important component of ethical behavior. Such actions can lead to a financial crash down the road if and when the fraud is detected and publicly reported. Companies may be sued for large amounts thereby squandering shareholder resources. Employees may lose their jobs. Such actions also harm the public interest and, as we learned during the great recession, bring down the stock market. Also, ethical legalism points out that even if an action is legal that doesn't mean it's ethical. This also contributes to a higher ethical standard than your response implies. In short, if it's not a whistle-blower who acts to stop the fraud, who will and protect the public interest? It is true one's motivation to blow the whistle might be questioned from an ethical point of view (bounty award incentive), but the greater good is served by making the award available to stop the criminal act. Whistle-blowers like Cynthia Cooper at WorldCom were essential to stop that fraud and honor the public trust. For her actions she was named one of Time Magazine's Persons of the Year so that indicates a respect for the action itself regardless of loyalty to one's employer. To me, loyalty is a secondary ethical value because if not, then all sorts of improper actions can go unchecked and rationalized all in the name of loyalty. Steve Mintz
Harvard Policy does not go far enough This is the second of a three-part series on the ethics of academics. My blog on February 4 dealt with politically correct speech on college campuses. Today's blog looks at Harvard University's recently announced ban on sexual relationships between professors and undergraduates. On February 11, I will look at civility on campus. Today's blog is done in a tongue-and-cheek way built on a cynical belief about Harvard's new policy. The University announced last week that it will ban such sexual relationships but the ban does not seem to include graduate students in Master's... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2015 at Ethics Sage
CA Master Plan for Higher Education is at Risk Having taught in the California State University System for almost thirty years, I was surprised to learn of Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to allow two-year community colleges to offer four-year degrees. Paving the way for one of the largest community college... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2015 at Workplace Ethics Advice
CUNY Ban of “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” and “Ms.” Is Academically Insulting Mr,” “Mrs.,” and “Ms” are being shown the door at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. “Allowing students to use their preferred name and eliminating the use of pronouns and official correspondence is a necessary step toward protecting the rights, privacy, and safety of students,” said Dominique Nisperos, co-chair of the Doctoral Students’ Council at CUNY, adding that the DCS has been battling marginalization and working specifically to support gender nonconforming students for several years. At CUNY, school staffers have been advised to refrain from using... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2015 at Ethics Sage
Laura, I agree with your basic analysis that builds on the ethical principle of justice/fairness. Yes, all employees should be treated the same and with respect in establishing any drug testing policy. And, privacy issues are a main concern. There is a responsibility issue for employers to insure a safe working environment and one that contributes to productivity and efficiency in operations. Establishing the most ethical drug policy also should consider the rights of all stakeholders including non-drug-using-employees who might be affected by drug users with respect to the aforementioned points. Thanks for choosing my blog to respond to. Steven Mintz