Ariana Huffs at Uber, While Investors Yell Down the Holes at Wells Fargo and United

Now that Ms. Huffington pledged to be the mom at Uber and activist investors are playing angry dads at Wells and United, we get to see what happens when ethical breeches cost big bucks. The pendulum swings, executives are blamed, the press has something to write about.

But will anyone do anything to make ethics matter?

VW agreed to a $2 billion fine. Ouch, and we all know the damage to the brand plus the Euro fines will climb much higher. Wells clawed back most of their $185M fine from executives, but again, brand damage is far greater. United is still falling, and who knows what happens next as frequent flyers jump to Delta and perhaps American who is now dealing with their own flight-attendant-in-need-of-anger-management? (What the heck, airlines? Is the job really that stressful?)

But will anyone do anything to make ethics matter? It’s obvious that one does not easily solve such breakdowns as we read about recently. Many of us trusted or thought well of the companies involved, but their internal culture was not so trustworthy. They fooled us and we do not like to be fooled.

Their ethical education and accountability for unethical behavior was lacking. Now they’re paying heavy tolls.

Question for The Ethics Award

How do you increase awareness of ethical standards at your place?

How do you know your plan is working?

Once you discover an ethical problem, what’s the process to stop it, report errors, repair damage, and prevent a future breech?

How can your organizational behavior get ahead of ethical breakdowns?