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Businessweek Archives

Ethics Starts At The Top

Readers Report


I was disappointed in the cynical tone of "Ethics for hire" (News: Analysis & Commentary, July 15). While I agree that some corporations reactively seek a "quick fix" in response to costly ethics blunders, your article ignores thousands of businesses, often small or midsize, that proactively instill ethics into the decision-making process or nurture ethical behavior among employees.

Values such as integrity and honesty must be supported by company leaders and reinforced through the organization's reward systems.

James Weber

A.J. Palumbo School of

Business Administration

Duquesne University


Unless employees believe that those with decision-making authority "walk the walk" as well as "talk the talk" of ethics, even the best ethics policies will be difficult to integrate into the culture of the organization.

Steven M. Mintz

School of Business &

Public Administration

California State University

San Bernardino, Calif.

Companies wanting a truly independent investigation of internal wrongdoing with a level of credibility that the authors of "Ethics for hire" find lacking should hire an Independent Private Sector Inspector General (IPSIG). The brainchild of a group of public officials, attorneys, forensic accountants, and private investigators in the New York City area, the IPSIG is a multidisciplinary team that provides investigative, legal, auditing, monitoring, and loss-prevention services.

It reports its findings not only to the company but simultaneously to an independent entity, such as a government agency or special committee of outside directors. A strict code of ethics governing the work of IPSIGs guards against conflicts of interest and other integrity lapses that might interfere with a genuinely independent investigation.

Neil V. Getnick


International Association

of Independent Private

Sector Inspectors General

New York

Things that are legal are not necessarily ethical, for the law does not attempt to anticipate all conduct. What Corporate America needs are leaders for whom ethics--a sense of right and wrong, not of what's legal and illegal--is important.

Frank H. Storey

Spokane, WashReturn to top


As a member of the ICN Pharmaceuticals board, I would like to point out that you unfairly characterized the company's financial and operational status ("Milan Panic may be starting to sweat," Finance, July 1). The article unfortunately sensationalized past allegations and branded ICN as "mediocre." This is not the case.

In the past few years, ICN has added to top management a significant number of scientists and business executives with international reputations for excellence. Record sales of $508 million and a $50 million reduction in debt last year, followed by record sales, earnings, and net income in the first quarter of 1996, are impressive by any measure.

Birch Bayh

WashingtonReturn to top


Howard Gleckman says: "The FAA was doing exactly what the public wanted" ("A hard truth about deregulation," News: Analysis and Commentary, July 15). Not so. The public was never asked whether it wanted to compromise inspections to save a few dollars. The answer would have been resoundingly negative. Get bureaucrats off business' back? Sure, but safety inspectors represent the public's legitimate interest in self-protection.

Thomas T. Semon

Demarest, N.J.Return to top

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