The NASBA Center for the Public Trust (CPT) announces the launch its Fourth Annual Ethics in Action Student Video Competition

The NASBA Center for the Public Trust (CPT) announces the launch its Fourth Annual Ethics in Action Student Video Competition, sponsored by the Dean Institute for Corporate Governance and Integrity!

This exciting student video competition focuses on ethics and accountability in the business world.  With the prevalence of ethical dilemmas of recent years – LIBOR, the Madoff scandal and Wall Street’s impact on the economic crisis – the CPT realized an opportunity to influence future leaders by educating today’s students on ethics, accountability and integrity through this exciting competition.

The competition is open to all U.S. college students, and seeks entries from students of all majors.  Categories include 3-5 minute (Short Film), and 30 second PSA (Public Service Announcement). Cash prizes range from $250 to $1,000.

Interested students are encouraged to visit: to register their team and learn more about the contest. Team registration is due by March 1, 2013. Video submission deadline is April 1, 2013. Winners will be announced April 15, 2013.

For more information, or to have promotional materials sent to your campus, contact:

Amy Walters, CPT Manager of Programs


Ethics as a student vs a professional

Question to “Ask the Prof”: Is it different being ethical as a student as compared to being a “professional”?

A (Professor Barbato): A professional is expected to self-regulate his or her behavior, because outsiders don’t have the knowledge or expertise to regulate these behaviors.  A doctor is an obvious example, because he or she is the only one with enough knowledge about a patient to determine the proper treatment.  A professor who is grading a student is in a similar situation.  If professionals don’t impose high ethical standards on themselves, then the profession cannot operate effectively, and the cost of regulation from the outside will be very burdensome.  For this reason, it is especially grievous when a professional violates ethical norms.  We use the term, “moral intensity” to understand that there are degrees of moral transgressions, so when a professional uses his or her professional privileges to commit moral transgressions it is worse.  For instance, when a doctor uses his or her privileges to dispense drugs illegally, like the case of Michael Jackson’s doctor, that is worse than if a common criminal dispenses drugs illegally, even though the outcomes are the same.

A student does not fall into this category.  He or she is expected to behave ethically, but a transgression by a student is no different than the same transgression by anyone else.


Is bribing always unethical?

Question to Ask the Prof: If it is the norm to bribe public officials when doing business in  a foreign country and it is hard to get anything done if you don’t, is it unethical to offer bribes?

A (Professor Barbato): Corruption and bribery distort the marketplace so that the most deserving actors don’t gain what they deserve.  This is unfair and unethical, and it results in suboptimal outcomes in the aggregate.  However, we must remember that business ethics is a practical endeavor, and cannot solely rest on lofty principles that deny the realities of the world in which we behave.  For instance, there are societies where bribery is part of the game, so to speak.  In other words, if you don’t bribe, then you can’t participate, and everyone knows that and everyone accepts that.  This would be like bluffing in poker.  It may not seem very honest, but everyone understands that it is part of the game.  However, business should not simply accept the status quo, it must also be an ethical leader in trying to change the status quo.  So honest businesses should participate in such an economy, but they should also take the lead in trying to change these economies into more honest and fair economies.  They should not use the excuse that “everyone does it” to free themselves of all their ethical obligations.  So, like so many cases of business ethics, the answer is to be practical and principled at the same time.


One more word about bribery.  Some societies use gifts to reinforce cooperation and loyalty; two values that lead to higher ethical behaviors.  Without a certain level of cooperation and loyalty, it is hard for businesses in some societies to arrive at optimal levels of productivity.  Although these gifts may seem like bribes that have the goal of corrupting, they can actually be seen as gifts with the goal of enhancing trust and cooperation.  Once again, business must be both ethical and practical in situation like these.

The relationship between ethics and business ethics

Question to “Ask the Prof”:  What is the relationship between ethics and business ethics?

A (Professor Barbato): Ethics asks the question, “How should I live my life?”, and it uses moral philosophy and moral reasoning to explore and answer that question.  Business ethics asks, “How should a business live its life?” or more appropriately, “How should a business behave?”, and it uses moral philosophy and moral reasoning to explore and answer that question.  The key word in all the above questions is “should.”

Winner of Saunders College of Business Ethics Scholarship Chosen

Congratulations to Adena Thompson for being selected as the winner of this year’s Saunders College of Business Ethics Scholarship! Adena will be invited to represent SCB by presenting at next year’s Rochester Area Business Ethics Foundation Awards  luncheon.  This is held at the Riverside Convention Center and attended by hundreds of members of the area business community. Thanks for making us look good Adena!

Professor Barbato weighs in on Nepotism Concern in the NBA Union

Our very own Professor Barbato was quoted in Bloomberg regarding the recent concerns regarding potential Nepotism in the National Basketball Players Association.  President Derek Fisher, who raised these concerns and asked for an investigation has been asked to resign.

Click Here to Read the Article and see what Professor Barbato things about it.  You can also see an earlier post on Nepotism.

Women in Business start a Kiva Account

The Women in Business Group was awarded a small grant from the Institute for Business Ethics and Social Responsibility to start a KIVA account, which provides micro-loans world wide. Follow their progress at:

Other loans made with the KIVA account include:

Rabeea is 29 years old and is married with three daughters and one son from Jordan. She has started a small business selling home products, basically kitchen tools, to help in improving the family living conditions.
Now Rabeea has applied for a loan to buy more home products and expand her business.

Nino Mchedlishv is from a small village near Tbilisi, is 43 years old and lives with her family: husband – Konstantin, 21-year-old daughter, 19-year-old son, son-in-law, and 75-year-old mother.
Nino is leading the agricultural business for her family. She has a milk cow. Nino produces yogurt and sells it locally. Also, the family owns a greenhouse with an area of 250 sq. meters. It is used for growing tomatoes, cucumbers and greens. Nino sells the harvested products in Tbilisi. Nino’s husband is a worker. The total average monthly income for the family is 1000 Laris, including the monthly pension of Nino’s mother.
Nino requested credit to purchase a new milk cow. She will double the production and sales of yogurt and the income of the family will increase. Nino will use increased income to purchase additional household goods to improve her family’s living conditions.

Mercy Mbugua is 30 years old and has four children aged 14, 9, 7 and 4 years old. She has been selling new shoes for the past 10 years and earns a monthly income of KES 60,000. She wants to purchase more shoes for sale and has requested for a loan worth KES 30,000.  The profit earned will assist her to pay school fees for her children as well rent and food. She wants to expand her business and this is her first loan.


Belisa Cathy Larico Flores is from Camana, Peru. She sells shoes, and is looking for this loan because she wants to expand the shoe business into the summer shoes, get a variety of products.

Marine Hakobyan is from Yerevan, Armenia. She is a young clothing retailer who lives with her mother, father, and three brothers who are students. The money will help pay for the education of her brothers as well as more clothing for the business and stability for the business.

Conflict of Interest?

Question to “Ask the Profs”

Q: I work for an OEM manufacturer and was approached by a Supplier of generic replacement parts for various companies products, including my company. This Supplier asked if I could use my manufacturing knowledge to help source these generic parts – for all the other companies parts except mine – on a Freelance basis. Is this a conflict of Interest?

A (Professor Polanski): It might be a conflict of interest, depending on a) how it might affect your company in the future and b) how it might affect your ability to do your current job.  If you think that there might be a possible conflict of interest, it is always better to disclose the situation to your employer and have a discussion.

Nepotism in the Workplace

Question to Ask the Prof

Q:I worked in a small branch of a bank. The only 3 full time employees were , the branch manager, her daughter and myself. (There was 1 other employee who left earlier this year and was not replaced.)I also happen to be the Mother-in Law of the managers daughter. My question is, How ethical is it to have the mother be the manager of the daughter, especially in this small of a workplace? My other co-worker (she left the bank this past March because of the manager and I recently left for the same reason) and I noticed some very preferential treatment towards her daughter. She was allowed to do things that, even though I was the senior employee, I was not allowed to do. She was essentially made the superior over us, was allowed to come and go as she pleased and basically given responsibilities that were not even offered to any one else(made a notary without asking anyone else, given a special chair in the office to put her feet up because she was pregnant, etc.) Being as the manager was in charge of our payroll reporting and review process is this scenario even legal?


A (Professor Barbato): I’m assuming that the branch manager was not an owner of the bank and that she was an employee who was acting as an agent for the bank.  If the manager gives preferential treatment to her daughter, then this would be unfair and unethical.

Having said that, it is clear to me that the correspondent is coloring the information in such a way so as to convince anyone that the manager is acting unethically.  Giving a pregnant woman a special chair does not seem like preferential treatment to me, and I’m surprised that this would make it onto the list of grievances against the manager.  The other grievances are vague (she was allowed to come and go as she pleased).  One of the important steps in ethical reasoning is to make sure we have all the facts, and during this step it is important to check ourselves for any biases that would lead us to a wrong conclusion.

Darden Video Contest

The Olsson Center for Applied Ethics would like to hear from you! Students from around the world are invited to contribute to the conversation about the role of ethics in modern society through the “Building an Ethical World” video contest. This video contest opportunity allows students to express their views creatively on relevant ethical issues that impact our everyday lives.

For more information watch the following clip: “Building an Ethical World” Video Contest