Friday, December 23, 2016

Talking About Ethics Across Cultures; Harvard Business Review, 12/23/16

Mary C. Gentile, Harvard Business Review; Talking About Ethics Across Cultures:
"The program in Delhi started as many of these programs do: A group of cordial but skeptical participants sat with arms crossed and gentle smirks, leaning back in their chairs. When I finally was able to coax one of them to express what they were thinking, he said: “Madam, we are very happy to have you here and we are happy to listen to what you have to say about ethics and values in the workplace. But this is India, and we are entrepreneurs — we can’t even get a driver’s license without paying a bribe.”
He was raising an issue I had struggled with when developing the program, which is called Giving Voice to Values. My aim was to take a new approach to values-driven leadership development, one that was a stark departure from the way companies and educators had been teaching business ethics. For years, training in this area was based on the assumption that the way to build an ethical workplace was to educate employees on laws, ethical norms, and company values so that they could decide what the “right” thing to do was in any particular situation. I became increasingly convinced, however, that many folks already knew what was right — and many of them even wanted to do it — but they felt pressured to do otherwise by the competitive environment, by their colleagues and managers, by their customers, and often, as the participant in my Delhi program pointed out, by the cultural context in which they were operating.
I’ve learned by sharing the Giving Voice to Values approach with audiences around the world — in India, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, China, the Philippines, the U.A.E., Cairo, Moscow, Costa Rica, Argentina, Uruguay, Australia, and all over Europe — that there are key ways to building ethical workplaces across cultures."

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