In Search of the Good Corporate Citizen

Winner of a 2010 Telly Award as an outstanding video production and the winner of a 2010 WorldFest-Houston Award, this outstanding video takes viewers beyond the pressures involved in hitting the numbers to show how the best business leaders steer companies through tough ethical challenges.

The show weaves together expert panel discussions, personal accounts from real-life white-collar criminals and whistleblowers, and “person-on-the-street” perspectives from the financial centers of New York and London. 28 public television stations in 20 states have picked up the program and counting.  The DVD is available to colleges and companies for a modest licensing fee.

Here’s a few lines from the DVD regarding the need for involvement by institutional investors:

Tom: How about the institutional investors? Do they have a role?

Win: I think they need to play a role too.  I think at this point we have socially responsible investment funds but really the investment community does not understand much about ethics management of the companies they are investing in.  I think they should for a couple reasons.  One it’s going to protect the investments they are making to understand that risk profile.  Secondly, if they do that I think it will send a very important message to the management of these companies that how they manage ethics matters to the bottom line.  And I think if society in general gets in line behind these companies that are trying to do this well I think we will have much more success in this search for the good corporate citizen.

Denny Swenson, Executive Producer, brought together a panel with years of experience, including: Bill George, former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Medtronic; Ben Heineman, former General Counsel of General Electric; Donna Boehme, former Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer for BP and BOC Group; Bill Prachar, former CEO of American Ecology, and Chief Ethics Officer for Waste Management and Teledyne.

The show compares comments from business people to a survey of over five thousand employees from various companies across the country. The survey showed:

  • 27% of sales and marketing personnel have observed colleagues engaging in deceptive sales practices— so one might say that even sales people don’t fully trust sales people!
  • 52 % of respondents believe they will be rewarded for results, not how they achieved them.
  • Less than half the employees surveyed believe that senior management knows what kind of behavior really goes on inside their companies.

Preview the show. Read the press release and the transcripts. Visit the website to tune into local broadcasts, buy the videos and learn how you can become a sponsor of future productions. As a former ethics officer, I highly recommend the series and wish I had such tools available for discussion when I was in the business.

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