Screening: “Shattered Ground (The Nature of Things).”

with Prof. Phil Walsh, Ted Rogers School of Management
March 13, 2014

5pm – Documentary screening of Shattered Ground. While Fracking is a bonanza for gas and oil production, it is caught in a backlash of suspicion and alarm. It seems that what’s happening underground can shatter more than just rock.

5:45pm – Professor Phillip Walsh has many years of experience in the oil and gas industry and will discuss fracking from an industry perspective followed by a Q&A.

This event is co-sponsored by the Ted Rogers School of Management MBA Students Association.

Mark Schwartz — “Business Ethics and Greed as Portrayed in Hollywood Movies”

“Business Ethics and Greed as Portrayed in Hollywood Movies”
Prof. Mark Schwartz,
York University
January 31, 2014

What is greed? Is greed good or bad for society? How is greed any different from selfishness or self-interest? Was greed the main cause of many of the most significant corporate ethical scandals, such as Enron, WorldCom, as well as the recent global financial crisis? To discuss these questions, we will review business ethics and ‘greed’ as portrayed in various Hollywood movies including Quiz Show, Wall Street, Boiler Room, Monster’s Inc., Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and Margin Call.

Joanne Ciulla — “The Ethical Challenges of Leadership”

“The Ethical Challenges of Leadership”
Joanne Ciulla, Coston Family Chair in Leadership and Ethics
Jepson School of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond
January 23, 2014

This talk focuses on the question “Why is it difficult to be an ethical leader?” It will examine some of the distinctive problems that have always been a part of being a leader and exercising leadership.

John Isbister — “Ethics and Economics”

“Is it possible to have a just society?”
John Isbister, VP Faculty Affairs, Ryerson University
January 15, 2014

A definition of justice is “getting what you deserve.” That is a good working definition of criminal justice, but what about social justice? How do we get what we deserve within our social system? It is a subject that has puzzled thinkers at least since Aristotle, and the debates echo over the centuries. My contention is that the principles propounded by some of the great philosophers can help us in our thinking, but they are incapable of giving us clear, precise answers. There are too many plausible principles, some of which lead us in opposite directions. Is there a morally justified distribution of personal incomes in Canada? Can we justify the existence of poverty, at any level? Should the accident of citizenship have any bearing on ones well-being? Do animals have a right to justice and, if so, is it any different from the right to justice of human beings? The questions, and many like them, are fundamental, and the search for answers never-ending.

Andrew Crane — “The Business of Modern Slavery”

“The Business of Modern Slavery”
Andrew Crane, Schulich School of Business
November 26, 3pm – 4:30

Abstract: According to ILO estimates there are currently something like 12m people in conditions of modern slavery – forced into work through threat, violence or coercion, typically in appalling conditions, with little or no pay. This talk will explore what makes modern slavery a viable business model despite its moral repugnance and widespread illegality. Drawing from global research, including studies of forced labor in developed countries like Canada, Andrew Crane will show that it is only by understanding the contexts in which modern slavery can thrive, and the complex supply chains in which it emerges, that we can realistically hope to protect those most at risk.

Buzz Hargrove — “Ethics in Labour Relations: A View from the Trenches””

“Ethics in Labour Relations: A View from the Trenches”
Buzz Hargrove, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Ryerson University (and Co-Director, Centre for Labour Management Relations)
November 20, 2:00 – 3:30

What ethical principles govern the real world of labour relations? How do honourable leaders maintain their integrity while negotiating with CEOs and politicians? Come hear this veteran leader of Canada’s labour movement talk about the ethical lessons learned in a career spent at the bargaining table.

Jeffery Smith — Corporate Involvement in Human Rights Abuse

“Corporate Involvement in Human Rights Abuse”
Jeffery Smith, DePauw University, Prindle Institute for Ethics & University of Redlands
November 8, 2013

Abstract: John Ruggie, the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations, has written a number of prominent reports that outline a comprehensive framework to help understand the role of transnational corporations in the violation and protection of human rights. Central to this framework is the idea that although human rights need to be protected by states, transnational corporations have obligations to respect human rights in their operations and should sometimes be part of broad-based institutional responses to remedy human rights violations after they have occurred. This presentation introduces and examines Ruggie’s tripartite framework–the so-called “protect, respect and remedy” framework–paying particular attention to the ways that transnational corporations can be morally complicit in the violation of human rights. It is argued that a clearer understanding of complicity and its dimensions will improve the application and implementation of Ruggie’s framework, especially as it relates to the roles that transnational corporations have in remedying human rights violations.

Jane Garthson — Board Decision-Making in Small Organizations

“Board Decision-Making in Small Organizations”
Jane Garthson, Garthson Leadership Centre
October 30, 2013

Abstract: Boards of directors are charged with making the highest level of decisions for their organizations. Ideally, they will make high quality, well-informed decisions that will best enable their organization to achieve its purpose. So surely organizations would all have good practices to help their directors make great decisions, right? Sadly, many don’t.

Ever left a board meeting and, before you even got out of the building, stopped and wondered, “What have we done?” Some explicit considerations of how the board prepares for, and makes, decisions could help avoid such situations at your organizations. It’s the ethical thing do to if you care about the best possible outcomes, resource use, oversight and much more. Your choices won’t always make everyone happy, but there’s a far better chance your decisions will be seen as fair, wise and respected.

Jane’s session will focus on what could be done in advance of the board meeting and then what could happen at board meetings to support wise decisions at the top. Bring your perspectives as directors or senior staff of associations, charities, small businesses and community groups or advisors to such organizations.

*This event was co-sponsored by the Ethics Practitioners’ Association of Canada.

Alexei Marcoux — Adventures in the Market for Values

“Adventures in the Market for Values”
Alexei Marcoux, Loyola University Chicago, Quinlan School of Business
October 8, 2013

Some commentators in the business ethics and CSR literatures cheer the emergence of consumers who choose trading partners based upon whether or not those trading partners share one’s ethical/political/religious/social values. I advance a virtue ethics argument against cultivating the disposition to view trade as an opportunity to punish those who don’t share one’s values. I argue that cultivating this disposition is individually imprudent and socially divisive. It is a failure of tolerance – the most important virtue for participants in a liberal social/political/economic order. I argue that the disposition in market participants that Wicksteed calls “nontuism” is tolerance in its commercial form.

Hamish van der Ven — “Big-Box Retail and the Environment: Why Some Firms Innovate and Others Stagnate”

“Big-Box Retail and the Environment: Why Some Firms Innovate and Others Stagnate”
Hamish van der Ven, University of Toronto
October 2, 2013

Despite a considerable push by policy-makers to incentivize green business practices, take-up of environmental initiatives amongst North American retailers has been highly uneven. While some “big-box” retailers have launched ambitious environmental initiatives, others continue to conduct business as usual. This paper asks: why do some mega-retailers commit to ambitious environmental agendas while others in the same sector do not? And how can the answer to this question improve public policy? Using comparative case studies of four North American mega-retailers, I find that the socialization of senior executives through multi-stakeholder sustainability networks is the critical variable accounting for progressive environmental practices in some corporations and not others. This finding suggests that existing public policies that focus on making the business case for sustainability are based on incomplete assumptions about why companies “go green.”