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Retaining Ethical Cultures During a Weak Economy

Harvey L. Pitt | June 30, 2009

Editor’s note: Harvey Pitt recently provided a keynote address at Compliance Week’s 4th annual conference at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., June 3-5. Below is an abridged version of the text of the speech.

I’ve been asked to discuss how cultures of integrity, ethics, and compliance can be instilled or maintained in downward-spiraling economies. That’s not a new issue, of course, or even an unfamiliar one. But, despite the fact that integrity, ethics, and compliance are ideas that simply won’t go away, one’s left to question whether we’ve really learned much from past crises at all.

Learning from history—if for no other reason than Santayana’s observation about the consequences of not learning from history—is, in fact, virtually impossible. As George Bernard Shaw aptly observed, the only thing we really learn from history is that we never learn from history! Why’s that? There’re...

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