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The Subtle Presence Of Corporate Ethics

Patricia Harned | August 1, 2006

The staff meeting ran long, but you decide to revisit the main points one last time anyway. “I cannot over-emphasize the importance of what we’ve been talking about today,” you say to the group. “The values you see on this Code of Conduct are more than just nice words; these principles guide all our activities in the marketplace. Your commitment to the highest standards of doing business is essential to our success, and that means more than just obeying the law.”

You again endorse the helpline and give a calm but stern warning that retaliation against whistleblowers will not be tolerated on your watch. Your big finish is telling employees to “go out there and do the right thing.” The meeting ends and you feel good about it.

You work your way toward the door, stopping to talk to the various staff members who have lingered to get in their questions before you disappear. Finally, when it seems you are the last one leaving the room, a timid...

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