Working With Stories

Networking Luncheon-04






Story telling is one of the best teaching tools.  Weaving business ethics into stories at work is an easy way to educate and engage ethics in your culture.  Good ethics makes a great workplace.  At March13th’s Energizing Ethics Networking Luncheon professional story teller Rita Paskowitz will teach us how to tell a great story – the kind that will remain in one’s heart, mind, and behavior.

Working with Stories Packet

Energizing Ethics Networking Luncheon is sponsored by:

New Logo EPS

Ethics Guilty?

Ethics on Trial was a mock courtroom drama where emotional duress caused by an ethical decision came back to bite. Here is a promo video from the “Ethics on Trial” event in April 2013, hosted at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center.

The drama was based on the film “Most” a 21st-century parable about a loving father, his young son, and the fateful day when a father is forced to choose between the life of his son and saving the lives of a thousand strangers.

Ethics was put on trial as it tried to defend itself from being blamed for the Plaintiff’s emotional torment from the incident. The audience held Ethics fate in their hands, as they were the ones who got to decide the verdict of innocent or guilty at the end of the night. Check out this thought provoking video to see what they decided. 

It’s a grey, grey world






This week’s post is about resources – where you may go to exercise your integrity muscles….


A very familiar Omaha face once said “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Warren-Buffett1The advice of billionaire investor Warren Buffett has resonated with thousands of business professionals in how they approach ethical decision making and integrity within the workplace.  Yet, from Mr. Buffett, it sounds clean, straight-forward, and simple but those who have walked amongst the business world know that most ethical decisions are not black and white.  When troubles arise, many people seem to turn colorblind and become lost in the complex problems of a grey world with no navigation skills.

Stan Horton, former chair and CEO of Enron Transportation Services saw firsthand how being the front page scandal is the smallest worries of those companies that lose their integrity. “I experienced firsthand what happens when you don’t have strong business ethics, and the tremendous harm it can cause,” he recalls. Unfortunately, he adds, good people sometimes do bad things or make bad decisions. “People need training,” he contends (Pegasus Magazine, 2011).

Research supports that if individuals understand the process of solving difficult ethical problems from the beginning, they are less likely to compromise their integrity for a solution.  This crucial step in integrity intention is supported by the Business Ethics Alliance and our online Resources page.  We have archived within our blog posts articles, videos, practice scenarios, and more for you to exercise your integrity.  More – we have posted a page of links to many, well respect outside resources.

Here are just a few…..


Integrity Dilemma Video

Where to draw the line between professionalism and policy vs. invasion of privacy outside the office?

Josephson Institute of Ethics in California

Advice on integrity and everything ethics from long-time business ethics leader Michael Josephson.


Bob Levitt: CEO and President of General Service Bureau

Interview with Bob Levitt, CEO and President of General Service Bureau, who reveals from his first day the rewards, struggles and importance of ethical behavior in the work place.

The Ethics and Compliance Officers Association

ECOA is one of the best groups to connect with the ethics and compliance community.  Executive Director, Keith Darcy, spoke at the Alliance’s own Executive Breakfast in 2011 and wrote the preface to our Organizational Ethics  Course workbooks.


Ethical Scenario on Integrity and “Gifts”:

If you were invited to a company paid despite pending payment on the completion of a project, what problems could you face by accepting this “gift”?

Center for Professional Responsibility

Located at the University of Illinois-Chicago, Gretchen Winter provides great resources, materials, and information to help guide companies on an ethics-friendly path.

Laurette Koellner, retired president of Boeing International who now sits on three corporate boards, gives similar advice as Buffet. If you feel you are stepping into a grey area, she encourages you to ask, “Would you feel comfortable if this story ended up on the front page?” More importantly, “Would your mother feel comfortable if this story ended up on the front page?” (Pegasus Magazine, 2011).

Those who have walked amongst the business world know that not every problem and decision is black and white.  One misstep can put you in the headlines and even out of business.  Research shows that regular ethics engagement will sharpen employee critical thinking skills – the very skills that lead to making sound ethical decisions. When ethical dilemmas arise – and they do every single day – support your organization by arming your employees with the skills to navigate the grey world of ethics.

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Post by guest blogger Morgan McVay, Creighton University 2014, Marketing and Economics with a focus in Psychology, Business Ethics Alliance Marketing Intern
Greater Omaha has five business core values: Accountability, Community Responsibility, Financial Vitality, Integrity, and Moral Courage. These values were identified as being significant drivers of the business success Greater Omaha enjoys. Organizations wanted a way to enhance their ethics cultures so we have created curriculum around these values and offer  $50 do-it-yourself presentation packages under the umbrella name Ethical Omaha.

“I’m Fast, You’re Slow.”

Today’s guest post reveals integrity of perception.  What we think of ourselves may not be what others think….


I received an e-mail from the golf pro at a course where my husband and I play.  It begins with the following… “I’m Fast, You’re Slow.”


What does pace of play in golf have to do with Integrity?  Integrity is about congruence between intent and action.  Or, as defined via the Alliance’s Ethical Omaha Legacy Project, “walking your talk.”    

Often, leaders understand their leadership effectiveness from their own perspective, taking into consideration how they intend to lead.  Less frequently do they actively seek authentic feedback from those who experience their leadership every day.     

Here’s why it’s important:  In the Nov 2012 issue of Inc., Maeghan Ouimet reports “three out of every four employees report that their boss is the worst and most stressful part of their job.” 

threeoutoffourOuimet states, “Often it’s not what bosses do that makes them bad, it’s what they don’t do.” She cites a study of 30,000 managers, where employees report these top five manager flaws again and again:

  1. Fails to inspire
  2. Accepts mediocrity
  3. Lacks clear vision and direction
  4. Unable to collaborate and be a team player
  5. Fails to walk the talk

My hunch is three of four managers wouldn’t report the same of themselves.

360˚Feedback is a powerful tool that helps leaders gather data to describe how their leadership is experienced by others.  I often refer to it as a “reality check.” Below is an example of a leader whose self-perception around communicating a vision for the future is out of sync with how the leader is perceived by key stakeholders:


Like the golfers’ speed of play in the survey, this executive’s self-perception is considerably higher than the peers and direct reports who actually experience his leadership. 

We’ve found its key for every leader to understand how their self-perception aligns with reality.  But knowledge alone rarely results in change. (Step on a scale lately?)

Effective leaders take action to bridge the gap.  They increase integrity by supporting feedback with action planning and accountability for change.  In the illustration, the executive capitalized on this feedback and helped lead a divisional visioning process that resulted in measurable revenue increase.

To be a player others want on their team, awareness of your actions is essential.  As leaders, we have the opportunity to take a proactive approach to increase our effectiveness by engaging feedback from a robust group of key stakeholders.   

Golf Digest’s survey is a driving example of how our perception of reality often varies from the reality experienced by others.  Organizations have “the power to meaningfully evaluate the CEO – whether doing it themselves, or bringing in someone to do it, or some combination thereof” (Stanford 2013).  360˚Feedback is worthwhile for all leaders.

When I golf tomorrow afternoon, speeding up my game could be as simple as using a watch to measure reality, and then track my progress or even enlist a coach for accountability.  Tomorrow, what will you do to bridge the gap?

janyneJanyne Peek Emsick, Ph.D., Intégrow > inspiring organizations around the world to walk their talk, one leader at a time.

Greater Omaha has five business core values: Accountability, Community Responsibility, Financial Vitality, Integrity, and Moral Courage. These values were identified as being significant drivers of the business success Greater Omaha enjoys. Organizations wanted a way to enhance their ethics cultures so we have created curriculum around these values and offer FREE do-it-yourself presentation packages under the umbrella name Ethical Omaha.

Everyday Organizational Ethics Quandaries



  1. Greed
  2. Cover-ups and misrepresentations in reporting and control procedures – for example, suppressing information
  3. Misleading product or service claim
  4. Reneging or cheating on negotiated terms
  5. Establishing policy that is likely to cause others to lie to get the job done
  6. Overconfidence in one’s own judgment to the risk of the corporate entity
  7. Disloyalty to the company as soon as times get rough
  8. Poor quality
  9. Humiliating people at work
  10. Lockstep obedience to authority, Following the “just   do it” mentality
  11. Self-aggrandizement over corporate obligations (conflict of interest)
  12. Favoritism
  13. Price-fixing
  14. Sacrificing the innocent, and helpless in order to get things done
  15. Suppression of basic rights: freedom of speech, choice, and personal relationships
  16. Failing to speak up when unethical practices occur
  17. Neglect of one’s family, or neglect of one’s personal needs
  18. Making a decision that perpetrates a questionable safety issue
  19. Not putting back what you take out of the environment, employees, and/or company
  20. Knowingly exaggerating the advantages of a plan in order to get needed support
  21. Failing to address probable areas of bigotry, sexism, or racism
  22. Courting the hierarchy versus doing the job well
  23. Climbing the ladder by stepping on others
  24. Promoting the destructive go-getter who outruns his or her mistakes
  25. Failing to cooperate with other areas of the org. – the enemy mentality – building territories
  26. Lying by omission to employees for the sake of the organization
  27. Making an alliance with a questionable partner, albeit for a good cause
  28. Not taking responsibility for one’s work
  29. Abusing or just going along with company perks that waste money and time
  30. Corrupting the public political process through legal means
  31. Treating staff like secondary citizens
  32. Playing favorites

Laura Nash, Good Intentions Aside

PDF: Everyday Organizational Ethics Quandaries_nash