John Hall, owner and CEO of 16 Degree Advisory, discussed the importance of business ethics to about 475 attendees of a public lecture May 7 at Oregon State University’s LaSells Stewart Center.
Hall’s talk, “Making Ethical Decisions When Success Is Defined by Profits,” was the latest installment of the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series, which brings business leaders from across the United States to Oregon State’s campus to address a variety of today’s most relevant business topics.
Hall discussed the ways in which corporate fraud is detected and reported, the types of industries that are most prone to fraud and other ethical lapses, and who the individuals are within organizations that are most likely to perpetrate the fraud.
In order to prevent ethical lapses and fraud, Hall stressed the importance of employers and organizations instilling an “ethics culture” that starts at the highest rungs of leadership and reaches all the way to the entry level employees.
The topic of Hall’s discussion was especially poignant, as the College of Business at Oregon State recently became the first college on campus to institute its own Code of Honor. The code was developed by students and then approved by faculty members and focuses on integrity, responsibility and respect – three facets of an ethical organization that Hall whole-heartedly endorsed during his lecture.
The good news? According to Hall, observed episodes of workplace misconduct are actually on the decline, based on data from the National Business Ethics Survey’s Ethics Resource Center. This is largely due to the fact that two out of three companies now have “positive” ethics cultures.
“This increase in ethical commitment is significant because ethics culture drives employee conduct,” said Hall. “When companies value ethical performance and build strong cultures, misconduct is substantially lower.”
Before launching 16 Degree Advisory, Hall was the co-founder and owner of EthicsPoint, Inc., which later became the $100 million software company NAVEX Global, where Hall was the chief ethics and compliance officer.