Denise Kleinrichert, assistant professor of management and ethics at San Francisco State University’s business school, is co-organizing the school’s fourth annual Business Ethics Week, which starts today.
Do you think the ethical transgressions we’ve been hearing about are more common, or just drawing more attention? I believe that the ethical transgressions we’ve seen in the 1990s and currently are largely reflective of two things: Greater public awareness of the significant financial and market harm that has occurred by overemphasis in some organizations on short-term profit at the expense of long-term integrated economic, social and environmental impacts of business. Secondly, it’s a failure on the part of many businesses to humanize the work environment by not engaging individual employees as intrinsically valuable members of the company — like a functional family.
Do you think you can teach ethics? Absolutely! While there is some controversy — even in academia — about this issue, teaching ethical awareness and solutions is based on both theory and practice in the fields of accounting, finance, management, decision sciences, marketing, international business, entrepreneurship, hospitality and tourism management and information systems.
What do you hope the students take away from the events? The primary focus for students includes engagement with and ability to realize that they can be change agents and active decision-makers towards ethical problem-solving within an organization.