Mendoza highlights ethical business practices
Megan Valley | Monday, February 8, 2016
Mendoza College of Business will host its 19th annual Ethics Week, devoted to examining different facets of ethical business practices, from Feb 8. to 11. The week will include a variety events and several different speakers.
Mendoza teaching professor Brian Levey said the week is also a continuation of the legacy of John Houck, a Notre Dame management professor who died in 1996.
“Our last two deans were very fond of saying ‘Ethics is in our DNA,’ and so much of what we do today goes back to this quote from Fr. O’Hara [the first dean of the College], that the primary function of commerce is to serve mankind,” Levey said. “We think of it in terms of management and marketing and accounting and finance, but all of that ultimately is to serve mankind on some level and create something where there is nothing.”
The week is co-sponsored by the Notre Dame Deloitte Center for Ethical Leadership, and the events are free and open to the public. Levey said the events are aimed at the entire Notre Dame community, as well as the South Bend community.
John D’Arcy, associate professor at the University of Delaware, will deliver a presentation titled, “Data Breach: Failures and Follow-ups,” at the Giovanini Commons in Mendoza on Monday at 12:30 p.m. D’Arcy is a former assistant professor for Mendoza.
“His expertise is IT security and his particular topic is data breach,” Levey said. “He’s going to talk about things like the Target data breach, going back a few years ago – this was probably the biggest and earliest exposure of credit card information.”
Larry Katzen, a former partner at the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, will speak about the collapse of the company Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. at the Giovanini Commons.
“ … The popular narrative about that company is it started as a firm of technical competence and integrity but somehow lost its way, leading to its demise,” Levey said. “Although the firm collapsed, he’s made it his mission in retirement to tell a competing narrative about the firm and the many people that went down with the ship — in his view — wrongfully. Eighty-five thousand people lost their jobs, and he’s on something of a mission to tell that story.”
The keynote speaker for Ethics Week, Susan Ochs, will give her presentation Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at Giovanini Commons. Ochs is a senior fellow and founder of the Better Banking Project and will speak on improving corporate ethical behavior.
“Her focus is on organizational culture and, in particular, financial institutions, banks, investment banks, Wall Street,” Levey said. “One of the things she’s come upon when looking at banks is this notion of complexity. On Wall Street, folks seem to value complexity – the more complex the better. In most other walks of life, we try to keep things simple, and there seems to be some sort of bias toward complexity.”
Ethics week closes Thursday night at 7 p.m. with a showing of the movie “Margin Call,” followed by a panel question-and-answer session in the Jordan Auditorium in Mendoza. The 2011 film follows people at an investment bank during the first 24-hour period of a financial crisis.
“Each of the characters deals with this very practical, but also ethical, issue of what they should do,” Levey said.
The panel following the film will include professional specialist Walter Clements, associate professional specialist Jessica McManus Warnell and senior management consulting major Kevin Frost.
“Ethics and asking more of business is a hallmark of the Mendoza College of Business. Students have many opportunities to explore issues of ethics in business in and outside the classroom,” McManus Warnell said in an email. “Ethics Week is a chance for our Notre Dame community to come together and hear from experts in the field on key issues facing business today. These events allow us to hear from and discuss real-world implications of ethics in business — an important part of developing our own capacities to lead and serve.”
Levey said Ethics Week is just a part of Mendoza’s dedication to making its students aware of ethical issues that arise in business.
“We certainly have a reputation for ethics, and Ethics Week is just a part of that — it’s part of this ongoing and cumulative effort to expose students to ethical issues and raise their awareness, give them tools and hope it does some good in the long run.”