“Beefing up” ethics program is not an effective response to the incident

No, “beefing up” ethics program is not an effective response to the incident.

I define “effective response” as a method that can greatly help reduce the possibility of the recurrence of the ethical scandal if the similar scenario is provided. First let’s talk about President Fitzgerald who was famous for his impeccable integrity and the only one person directly benefited from his own heroic decision to go against the CEO and squeezed the CEO out of the company in the result just because the CEO order to copy the papers and waited for him together to talk about it. From this perspective this even could be depicted as an internal power conflict in which current CEO was turned into former CEO. If the similar scenario was provided, this time only Mr. Fitzgerald and his new right-hand men know, would they just copy the paper and return the original back to the navy and model the information secretly? We can not sure and we can not even know what will happen. Even Mr. Fitzgerald did not bear in his mind to overthrow CEO Haggett when he order to destroy the copies, Mr. Fitzgerald was like a basket that saved all the eggs by his integrity, but is it too dangerous to put all the eggs in a basket though it is famous for its safeness. The most “clean” official may corrupt; the most honest man may fall. It is just too easy to reach a consensus within the small decision making group to be good or to bad.

I understand “effective ethics programs” as about teaching two things. One is teaching people what is ethical, as for this target in this case, even children with some literacy know that it is wrong to steal military “business sensitive” papers to its own use, so in this perspective, ethics programs means window dressing. Another one is to teach people to do the ethical and refuse unethical in the practical ethical dilemmas. Let’s think about it this way, before the scandal people who attend the ethics programs knew what was ethical and they were taught to act an ethical way but when it happen in the working life, they didn’t know weather they the company really support ethics or just carrying out what the DII members’ routine work. But after the case, every employee had got clear message from the top management that the company should act according to the highest ethical requirement. So this time when employees and managers all attached sufficient importance to the ethics program, it probably worked very effectively. But we have to ask, was the program that taught people to do the ethical or the even itself that taught a better lesson? Obviously the latter one was more plauzable. As mentioned in the case the incident is now part of the “folklore” at BIW that teaches an important ethics “lesson”, and the ethics program just act as part of the formal culture that remind people of that the management’s policy toward ethics still works. Ethics program is necessary in this point of view but not an “effective response” to the incident because it by itself alone can not help change the situation anyway.

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