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March 13th, 2014
Baseless Accusations Aimed at Lady Gaga’s Charity Foundation


Accusations recently arose that Lady Gaga’s charitable foundation, the Born This Way Foundation (BTWF), was spending its money in what looked like an irresponsible way. For example: according to 2012 tax filings, BTWF spent almost $60,000 on publicity fees, $50,000 on social media, and nearly $80,000 on travel, but spent “only” $5000 in the form […]

September 12th, 2013
University Frosh Rape Chant Poses Leadership Challenge


Last week, a scandal sprouted on Canada’s east coast, when it was discovered that part of Frosh Week activities at Saint Mary’s University (SMU), in Halifax, included the chanting of a song promoting the sexual assault of underage girls. The news broke shortly after a video of the chant was posted online. Condemnation was broad […]

August 29th, 2013
Ethics and Online Reputation Management


In a recent interview with Reputation.com, I talked about the effect the internet has had on reputation management, and the connection between that and ethics. The risk, of course, in having an ethics professor like me talk about reputation management is that it’s all too easy to give the impression that the two topics are […]

July 22nd, 2013
Top Retailers Sign New Bangladesh Safety Initiative


Workers in Bangladesh will be the beneficiaries of yet another massive effort to improve their lot. Will it work? And will it mean anything for workers in countries other than Bangladesh? It’s a welcome move, but it also raises questions. According to a press release, an alliance of leading North American retailers has committed to […]

June 1st, 2013
Obligations Regarding Our Overseas Factories


This past Tuesday I had the honour of being invited to testify before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs of Canada’s House of Commons. The hearing was part of a “study on corporate practices by companies supplying and manufacturing products in developing countries for Canadian consumers.” The discussion wasn’t specifically about the factory that collapsed […]

May 23rd, 2013
The Ethics of Buying a Mayor’s Crack Cocaine Video


You might as well stop feeling queazy about efforts at crowdfunding the purchase of the video that allegedly shows Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. After all, you’re going to watch the video, aren’t you? The crowdfunding efforts (and there are at least 2 of them) have been the cause of no end of […]

April 30th, 2013
Joe Fresh: is Compensation for Bangladesh an Admission of Guilt?


Loblaw Companies Limited, the company that owns the Joe Fresh retail clothing line, has announced that it will pay compensation to the families of victims of last week’s factory collapse in Bangladesh. Details are sparse at this point, but it’s an interesting development. The move will of course garner the company plenty of praise. Some [...]

April 26th, 2013
Bangladesh, Joe Fresh and the burden of responsibility


In Bangladesh, on Wednesday, a building collapsed, killing at least 260 people. The factories in the building made garments for a number of global retailers, including Canada’s Joe Fresh. This weekend, I’m very likely going shopping at Joe Fresh, and with a clear conscience. People threatening to boycott the brand are woefully misguided. Their sorrow [...]

April 22nd, 2013
Making Sense of Tone at the Top


In my last blog entry, I began a discussion of the question of the extent to which the right “tone at top” contributes to a company’s success. I began by exploring just what we mean by ‘tone” in this context, and what kinds of activities and behaviours by leaders should be seen as constituting setting [...]

April 20th, 2013
Does the Right Tone at the Top Guarantee Success? Part 1


I spent the morning today speaking at Centre for Accounting Ethics Symposium called “Accounting Ethics and Tone at the Top.” I was part of a panel discussion that took on the provocative question of whether positive ethical tone at the top ensures success. It’s a provocative question because the word “ensure” pretty much points to [...]

April 18th, 2013
The Business Significance of the ‘Trolley Problem’


There’s a famous philosophical thought experiment known as “the Trolley Problem.” It goes roughly like this. Imagine one day you see a trolley — the famous San Francisco variety, or something more like a Toronto streetcar — hurtling along its track. The driver is incapacitated, and the trolley is bearing down on 5 people, mysteriously [...]

February 4th, 2013
Global 100: Sustainably Misleading


Corporate Knights continues to mislead. Once again they’ve issued a list of the world’s “most sustainable” corporations — the Global 100 — and once again the metrics they’ve used have surprisingly little to do with what most of us mean by the word “sustainability.” First, let’s get one thing out of the way. The organization [...]

January 25th, 2013
Toronto Mayor Ford Keeps Job, But Far from Vindicated


Toronto mayor Rob Ford will apparently be keeping his job. An appeals court has overturned a previous court decision that had said that Ford had violated the province’s conflict of interest law. The decision came down today from the Divisional Court which heard Ford’s appeal of his November conviction. The panel of three judges has [...]

January 7th, 2013
NHL Lockout and the Ethics of Labour Disputes


When the rich and powerful butt heads, are they obligated to look out for the little guy? The NHL lockout may be over, but its impact is far from forgotten. Or even clear. And the impact goes far beyond the loss of income to the NHL, its member teams and its players. The end of [...]

December 19th, 2012
Curbing Illicit Flows of Money


The development goals of many underdeveloped nations are seriously hampered by illicit flows of money. The money sent into those countries in the form of aid and foreign direct investment is, in many cases, dwarfed by the money that flows out as a result of money laundering, bribery, and dodgy transfer pricing. Some estimates put [...]

December 12th, 2012
Kinder Morgan and the Ethics of Public Consultation


Energy company Kinder Morgan ran head-first into the complex ethics of public consultation last week. The company shut down an information session in Victoria, British Columbia, in response to what the company is calling “vandalism” of some of its on-site signs. The so-called “vandals” tell a slightly different story: they say all they did was [...]

November 26th, 2012
Ethics Lessons from Toronto Mayor’s Ouster from Office


Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been found guilty of violating the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, and will be removed from office. The much-anticipated court decision was handed down this morning. Regrettably, this is unlikely the end of the story. Ford had announced, prior to the decision, his intention to run again should the judge [...]

October 24th, 2012
‘Do Your Best’ in The Tangle of Global Business


I spoke recently to a corporate audience on the topic of Ethics for Leaders. One of the sub-topics I touched on was the fact that leaders need not only to make good ethical decisions, but also to help others make good ethical decisions. As a practical example, we looked at techniques a leader might use [...]

August 30th, 2012
Conflict of Interest and the Rule of Law


The hapless mayor of Canada’s largest city is again facing accusations of conflict of interest. Or, more accurately, he is facing accusations that he violated the relevant legislation regarding how conflicts of interest ought to be handled by municipal councils. The claim is that Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford, violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act [...]

July 12th, 2012
Ethics on Wall Street: Hate the Player, Not the Game!


A recent survey of Wall Street executives paints a bleak picture of the moral tone of a central part of our economic system. According to the survey (conducted for Labaton Sucharow LLP), 24 percent of respondents believe that financial professionals need to engage in unethical behaviour in order to get ahead. 26 percent report having [...]














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