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Editorial: To Judge Tone At The Top, Follow PCAOB And Check Rank-And-File

Scott S. Cohen | March 25, 2004

At a lecture on ethics I attended a few years back, the speaker asked the parents in the audience to think honestly about an answer to this question: Would they rather have their kids cheat on a few tests in high school and get into Stanford, or not cheat and get into a lesser school.

I always think about that question when I hear speakers drone on about "tone at the top," a phrase I'm finding particularly overused these days.

Don't get me wrong: Tone at the top is absolutely critical to an ethical workforce, sound governance, fraud deterrence, operational discipline, long-term sustainability, a positive control environment, and a clean close shave.

But "top" is relative.

When I started working at The Boston Globe's electronic publishing subsidiary in...

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