Business professor educates students, faculty on ethics, morals in the workplace

Saachi Subramaniam

Students and faculty discussed making ethical business decisions, money embezzlement and Wall Street on Thursday as a part of the University’s The Ethics Project program.

Presented by the College of Liberal Arts, The Ethics Project hosts a series of lectures to teach students how to respond to the ethical and moral dilemmas they face in business, government and clinical fields, according to the project’s website. The Ethics Project is a Universitywide initiative to gain a better understanding of the human mind and unethical decision making in the workplace. 

Robert Prentice, department chair of business, government and society at the McCombs School of Business, headlined the talk on behavioral ethics and why people often face ethical dilemmas as professionals.

Prentice, who also serves as the faculty director of the Ethics Unwrapped Video Series, opened up dialogue on scenarios students might face in their future job market. Prentice said doing the right thing and being the right person is not as simple as taking a class on it and that there are difficult, ethical choices out there in the workplace. 

“The human mind is an overconfidence machine,” said Prentice. “In one study of ethics, more people thought they were going to get into heaven than Mother Teresa did. The problem here is, if you are satisfied with your moral character, you may go through life just assuming you are right.”

 



Prentice said most people think of themselves as good people, but act unethically frequently in ways that benefit them. Prentice ended his talk by advising audience members to try to be ethical, “polite and kind” with one another. Scott Stroud, founding director of the Media Ethics Initiative, said this event was their first The Ethics Project held in the Belo Center for New Media.

“The more we can get ethics out there at every different level, the better. That’s my philosophy,” Stroud said. “(Behavioral ethics) is one of those approaches that’s been gaining a lot of traction recently, and it is very important.” 

Students had a chance to ask Prentice about ethics in entrepreneurship and business at the end of the discussion. Biochemistry sophomore Zuena Karim, who attended the event, said she really enjoys events like these which open up dialogue and questions on ethical and moral decisions.

“I think it is important as college students to go into our adult life as knowledgeable on decision-making as we can,” Karim said.