School of Business puts focus on corporate ethics
|Photo by Lisa Godfrey
John Applegate (left), a sophomore majoring in actuarial science at The Fox School of Business, talks with speaker Walt Pavlo (center) and Robert Giacalone, a human resource management professor and ethics expert, after Pavlo’s presentation, “An Analysis of a White Collar Crime.”
As corporate scandals dominate the news, The Fox School of Business and Management is taking major steps to promote the importance of ethics in the workplace by updating its curriculum requirements and by exposing students to speakers who have faced real-life, corporate ethical dilemmas.
On March 16, Walt Pavlo, a convicted white-collar criminal, spoke to Fox student professional organizations, graduate students and students taking the course “Business, Ethics and Society.” The junior-level course became a requirement for all business students beginning with the class that entered in fall 2003.
Pavlo, formerly a senior manager of MCI’s telecommunication division, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in January 2001 and was sentenced to federal prison. Recently released, but still serving probation, Pavlo now uses his experience to help others avoid his mistakes. In his talk, he outlined his path to fraud and the consequences of his actions.
Human resource management professor Robert Giacalone, a business ethics expert who joined Temple in the fall, was impressed by Pavlo’s honesty. “It showed great integrity that he was able to take ownership for what he did,” Giacalone said.
Giacalone, who is in the process of setting up a Center for Ethics and Organizational Integrity at The Fox School along with several other business professors, stressed the importance of reaching out to students.
“Pavlo gave a very clear explanation of what drove it all, something that was key for students to hear,” he said. “He showed how corporate stresses make it very easy to become caught up in fraud.”
Kamilah Burke, a junior majoring in risk-management said of the presentation, “It was very informative because in the business world you will undoubtedly be challenged. Ethics are going to be an issue every day.”
The “Business, Ethics and Society” course, which provided one of the contexts for Pavlo’s talk, focuses solely on the significance of ethical responsibilities. In addition to students’ exposure to ethics through this required course, for the past two years core courses also have included ethics as part of the curriculum.
The Fox School’s emphasis on ethics outside the classroom is equally strong.
The Center for Ethics and Organizational Integrity will be in full operation by next year. It will offer a variety of complementary research and service activities to public, private and nonprofit organizations. The center will differentiate itself by focusing on research and by facilitating community-business interactions — for example, serving as an intermediary between for-profit and nonprofit companies.
Other services will include an ethics certificate program, which will provide training and development for Philadelphia-area managers, and a speaker series. Projected research topics include deviant behavior, such as theft, destruction and sabotage; and the impact of ethical behavior on family life.
Raj Chandran, vice dean of The Fox School, said, “As Walt Pavlo confirmed, it is important to let students know that ethical dilemmas have a way of sneaking up on you. We recognize the importance of ethics and ethical behavior, and sensitize students to ethical issues throughout the four years they are here. It is important to teach students how to recognize problems and where to seek help when problems arise.”
- By Kady Adams