Building and sustaining ethical nonprofits

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Tom Sechrest, Ph.D., Program Director, Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Ethics and Associate Dean, School of Management and Business, St. Edward's University and Ann Hume Wilson, Executive Director, Conspirare

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  • This slide is about what we’re doing today – a quick summary of what we plan to cover.
  • This slide can run while we are continuing to talk about values.
  • Hand out Tom’s list of value words (or an abridged version) to kick off this exercise
  • With this slide and the next two Ann will talk a bit about blind spots
  • Will give examples
  • We can talk a bit about compliance vs. values, and how just having a code of ethics does not ensure organizational ethical behavior -- and may impede it.
  • NOTE: This slide comes from Pauline Albert’s ethics course. The “Ruggiero Method” is a frequently used tool for critical thinking about ethical issues.We could possibly develop a hypothetical situation for group discussion (e.g. a funder exerting pressure to do something questionable, or dealing with layoffs).
  • Can modify or adapt this list, just a starting point
  • We can break into 5-minute group discussion here – have people share ideas in small group and then capture them on white board.
  • We want to wrap up by saying that this presentation isn’t intended to be comprehensive – there is no one way to approach building an ethical organization. Rather, we want to provide you with a few key points to remember.
  • Building and sustaining ethical nonprofits

    1. 1. Building & Sustaining Ethical NonprofitsValues, Blind Spots, and Strategies Tom Sechrest Ann Hume Wilson
    2. 2. Overview• What do we mean by ethics?• It starts with values• Blind spots and shadows• Identifying ethical issues• Ethical decision-making• Tools you can use• Strategies for building ethical organizations
    3. 3. problems right dilemma everyone QUESTIONSEVERYONE situation Code of Conduct normative wrong philosophy ethics principles JUSTIFY VALUES DUTY RULES moral behavior standards utilitarian
    4. 4. Ethics: Working Definition• Doing what’s right….• What you do when no one else is looking…• Obedience to the unenforceable Rushworth Kidder Does this definition resonate?
    5. 5. IT’S ALL ABOUT VALUEScourage helpfulness beauty obedience inner harmony competence broad-mindedness pleasurepoliteness world peace forgiveness love freedom ambition collaboration imagination logic social recognition cheerfulness salvation happiness equality
    6. 6. Group Discussion• Working alone, complete the Identifying Values worksheet as instructed• Turn to 2-3 of those seated around you• Spend a few moments sharing personal values• Then share a few key organizational values• Share with larger group as you are willing
    7. 7. Aren’t we all pretty ethical?• Want vs. Should• Blind Spots• Leadership Shadows• Compliance vs. Commitment
    8. 8. “Want” vs. “Should” I should behave Prediction ethically…therefore Recollection I will Memory revisions Forecasting errors Shifting Standards I should have behaved Should ethically…therefore I did! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want Decision I don’t see the ethical Time Implications…so I do what Ethical Fading I want to do. Visceral ResponseBazerman, Max & Tenbrunsel, Ann. Blind Spots. Princeton University Press 2011
    9. 9. Blind Spots for Nonprofits Things known by others but not ourselves:• Traits in ourselves or our organizations we fail to recognize• Information we regularly suppress, distort, or dismiss• Persistent lack of knowledge about areas of leadership
    10. 10. Blind Spots for NonprofitsHeroic leadership• A “cultural addiction” (Senge)• Leaders have difficulty obtaining feedback• Misplaced loyaltiesDenial• We don’t want to believe that something unethical might be taking placeNarcissism• Are we deluding ourselves about the unique superiority of our mission?
    11. 11. Leadership Shadows• Power• Privilege• Misplaced Loyalty• Inconsistency• Quasi-moralism
    12. 12. Compliance vs. Commitment (Values)• Family Connections• HUB Vendors• Penn State• “Stolen” art?
    13. 13. Ruggiero’s Ethical Decision-making Model1 Study the details – Context, circumstances, research2: Identify relevant criteria – Consider obligations – Consider ideals – Consider consequences3: Determine possible courses of action – Imagine the various alternatives4: Decide what is most ethical – If there are choices, choose what produces the greater good or the least harmBased on: Thinking Critically about Ethical Issues by V. R. Ruggiero, 7th Ed., 2008
    14. 14. Laura Nash’s Twelve Questions1. Have you defined the problem accurately?2. How would you define the problem from the other side of the fence?3. How did the situation occur in the first place?4. To whom/what do you give your loyalty?5. What is your intention in making decision?6. How does intention compare with probable results?7. Whom could your decision injure?8. Can you discuss with affected parties?9. Are you confident your position will be as valid over the long term as it is now?10. Could you disclose your decision to boss, colleagues, family, etc.?11. What is the symbolic potential of your action if understood? Misunderstood?12. Are there circumstances when you would allow exceptions to your stand? Nash, Laura L. "Ethics Without Sermons." Howard Business Review 59 (1981): 79-90.
    15. 15. Kidder’s Nine Checkpoints1. Recognize there is an issue2. Whose issue is it?3. Gather relevant facts4. Test for right-versus-wrong issues5. Test for right-versus-right paradigms6. Apply resolution principles (ends-based, rules- based, care-based)7. Is there a “third way?”8. Make the decision9. Revisit and reflect on the decision Kidder, Rushworth. (1995). How Good People Make Tough Choices.
    16. 16. Factors In Ethical Conduct• Awareness: recognition that a situation raises ethical issues• Decision making: determining what course of action is ethically sound• Intent: identifying which values should take priority in the decision• Action: following through on ethical decisions James R. Rest, 1994
    17. 17. Nonprofit Dilemmas• Compensation• Employee Confidentiality• Conflicts of Interest• Donor Influence• Grant Reporting• Transparency
    18. 18. Strategies for Building & Sustaining Ethical Nonprofits• Look at your Code of Ethics• Discuss ethical issues at board meetings• Awareness is key – how can it be fostered?• What are some metrics that can be used?• Create a “Values Card” for staff and board• Other ideas?
    19. 19. Wrap-up: Remember These Key Points• Awareness• Allow Time for Decisions (Resist Pressure For Immediate Decisions)• Be Intentional About Your Strategies

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