“In work, we create both the product and the person,” noted speaker Al Gini said during his convocation lecture Wednesday titled “Work, Identity and Self.” A professor of business ethics and the Chair of the Department of Management at Loyola University in Chicago, Dr. Gini spoke on the impact of work on the human spirit, not just the impact on the wallet.
He said that as a society, we rarely invite reflections on the nature of the work we do; rather, we’re only trained to work and expected to perform. Dr. Gini said in that routine we lose the most important aspect of work, creating ourselves.
He said he believes there is a direct correlation between our quality of life on the job and off. Since individuals spend so much time working, if the work is not enjoyed then chances are day-to-day life won’t be either. Dr. Gini concluded his lecture noting, “Don’t give up on your integrity… don’t let that happen to you.”
Dr. Pat Raines, dean for the College of Business Administration and interim provost, moderated a panel discussion last Friday about ethical issues in today’s political environment. Panelists included Congressman Jim Cooper, D-5th district, and lobbyist Stewart Clifton. Clifton is an attorney and lobbyist for such groups as the League of Women Voters, the Alzheimer’s Association and National Association of Social Workers. U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn, R-7th district, was supposed to participate; however, she had to attend a press conference in Spring Hill announcing the re-opening of the area’s GM plant.
During their opening statements, both Cooper and Clifton stressed the importance of integrity in politics. Cooper opened by announcing, “Well, if I had 400 jobs to announce in my district, I’d probably miss this, too,” addressing Blackburn’s absence. Cooper went on to lament the “cocooning effect of news” and stress the importance of informed voting. Clifton, on the other hand, used his opening address to make general observations on the role of integrity in politics. He noted that “to make any impact on the political process requires relationships. There are no lone ranger success stories in public policy.”
Before starting the question-and-answer session, Dean Raines said, “Ethics in politics should not be an oxymoron.” The panel brought out several interesting observations from Cooper and Clifton. Both panelists agreed that political figures are held to a higher standard—but that’s a good thing. While referring to figures such as Mark Twain, Will Rogers and Jon Stewart, Cooper said, “Thank goodness we have those folks because it shines a spotlight on the ridiculous.” Clifton said, “I don’t think public officials have a monopoly on bad behavior… but no one gets scrutinized quite like public officials.”
When asked about the current state of news, both Cooper and Clifton drew a line between journalism and entertainment and agreed most televised news falls into the entertainment category. Cooper said, “The news gatherers, the truth tellers, are in short supply.” He blames the lack of truly well-educated journalists. Clifton said we still have legitimate journalism, but he said, “It is sad to see the failure of a general shared body of information… There are just separate realities out there created by media.”
HCA’s TriStar Division gift helps create Harry N. Hollis Student of Integrity Award
Belmont University’s College of Business Administration (COBA) has received a $10,000 gift from the Hospital Corporation of America’s TriStar Division in order to create the Harry N. Hollis Student of Integrity Award. TriStar Health System’s President Larry Kloess and Chief Financial Officer Chris Taylor presented COBA Dean J. Patrick Raines with the check earlier this month.
TriStar has given this gift in honor of long-time business ethics professor Dr. Harry Hollis, who plans to retire this spring. Annual proceeds from the gift will go toward providing a $500 award to a “Student of Integrity” who has demonstrated exemplary integrity and ethical behavior while pursuing his or her business degree at Belmont. Recipients will be announced at the College’s annual awards convocation, with plans in place for a TriStar representative to participate in the award presentation and accompanying luncheon.
“We are extremely pleased to present this gift in honor of Dr. Hollis, who so aptly exemplifies integrity and ethics in both his personal and professional life, and who has spent much of his career teaching future business leaders to emulate those values” Kloess said.
Dr. Hollis has served as the director of Belmont’s Center for Business Ethics since its creation in 1994. The Center provides a forum in which leaders of organizations can interact with one another to discuss key issues in the area of organizational integrity and also provides resources to facilitate the overall development of ethical standards of conduct within the marketplace.
Under Dr. Hollis’ leadership, the Center has achieved national prominence and has helped Belmont achieve a Top 10 national ranking for business ethics programs in BusinessWeek magazine.
“We are excited about the establishment of this award and about the meaningful message it will send to our students regarding the value of integrity and ethics in today’s business world,” Raines said.
Cynthia Cooper, author of 2007 book Extraordinary Circumstances: The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower, spoke on campus this week, offering her personal insights on ethics in business. In 2001, Cooper discovered and reported that her company, WorldCom, had used phony bookkeeping to hide billions of dollars in losses, what was then the largest fraud in corporate history. The following year she and two other whistleblowers were named Time magazine’s 2002 Persons of the Year for their courageous actions.
In her talks Tuesday night and Wednesday morning at Belmont, Cooper addressed “WorldCom: What Went Wrong and What Lessons Can We Learn?,” noting that misguided loyalty, pressure from supervisors and fear of losing a job are a few of the many factors that can lead regular citizens to participate in fraud. In fact, several of the people involved in the cover-up at WorldCom were individuals Cooper knew well and respected, people who later said that once the first false accounting entry was made, it was difficult to stop.
“We need to know what we stand for–there is a true north,” Cooper said. “[WorldCom] is really a story about people and choices… Every one of us has a tremendous opportunity, a tremendous obligation, to instill values.”
Cooper serves now as the chairperson of the Louisiana State University Center for Internal Auditing Advisory Board and speaks frequently across the country to students and professionals on ethical and moral leadership.
Earlier this week David Callahan, author of bestseller The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead and of the new book The Moral Center: How Progressives Can Unite America around Our Shared Values, spoke to a packed house in the Maddox Grand Atrium on “The Cheating Culture: Ethics and Democracy.”
The Tennessean interviewed Callahan prior to his lecture. Click here to view an excerpt from that interview.
Callahan has had numerous articles published in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today. He has also been a frequent commentator on CNN, CBS, PBS, MSNBC and FOX News and has been a regular guest on radio talk shows across the United States. He lectures frequently about issues of ethics and integrity to universities, associations and businesses.
Callahan’s visit was sponsored by Belmont’s Center for Business Ethics, which seeks to bring people together in the discussion of business ethics, to help empower business leaders to face the current crisis in business ethics and to educate ethical business leaders for a better society. Upcoming events in the Center’s Ethics Leadership Speakers Series surrounding the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate include a Sept. 26 conversation with award-winning journalists John Seigenthaler and John Seigenthaler, Jr. on the topic “Ethics and the Presidential Election: Is the Media Helping or Hurting?,” an Oct. 21 presentation by author Cynthia Cooper on “Ethical Dilemmas: Power and Money” and a Nov. 6 lecture by economist Jonathan Wight on “The New Administration and the Economy: What Can We Expect?”