One of the biggest concerns in the business world (in most areas of the world actually) is the
gradually loss of ethics. In movies and TV shows, you often see a character who does what he does in order to benefit himself. The ends justify the means so to speak, and as long as you are making money then it doesn’t really matter how you get there. It’s like a Madmen scenario, where dirty business practices are the norm.
CU-Boulder must know this is a problem, because the idea of ethics is stressed pretty heavily in all classes. As a senior accounting major, for example, I am required to take an accounting ethics class before I can graduate. I am also currently enrolled in a social responsibility class, and am thinking of taking another ethics class next semester.
When you think about things, though, there wouldn’t be so many of these required classes unless there was a reason for them. Situations that force you to question your ethics happen every day in the business world, and it’s important to know where exactly you stand so that you can make the right decision. It’s easy to pick out big moral violators (Enron, big banks, etc.) but sometimes that bad guy isn’t so bad.
In class we regularly talk about ethical dilemmas—situations where there is no right or wrong answer. Say your boss lets you know that one of your company branches is being shut down. One of your close friends works in that branch and asks you about potential closures. Do you lie to your friend and not say anything, or do you break the trust of your boss and tell them what you know? In this case, both honesty and loyalty are being compromised.
By addressing these hypotheticals, Leeds is really preparing us for decisions that we’ll likely be forced to make. If you are a business student and are in any way interested in corporate social responsibility, then I also recommend that you check out CESR. CESR stands for Center of Education on Social Responsibility and they focus on developing courses to help students prepare for ethical dilemma situations. (Their website is www.colorado.edu/business/CESR is case you’re interested). There is also a certificate program, which looks great on a resume! I am considering pursing the certificate myself, and the only reason that I wouldn’t is if I can’t get me schedule to work.
In addition to bettering society, corporate social responsibility also can benefit a business through good PR, competitive advantages, and so on. I strongly recommend taking a look at the CESR website, since I wasn’t really aware of it before this year. Even if you don’t end up pursuing the certificate, familiarizing yourself with business dilemmas and questions of value will definitely help you in the future.