My wife can’t win the ethics award.

Her mom and dad can’t win either. Nor can my mom, or our children. They’re all too close to me. I’m the reason they can’t win, and by now you’ve likely guessed that their nomination would produce an insurmountable conflict of interest.

Because I teach the class whose students vet the award, none of those people close to me would make it past the first pass even though they are people for whom I would be an outstanding reference to their ethical behavior. An award has no value if it’s fixed. An ethics award has no value if even the sniff of a fix wafts through the air. Odor prevention is the role of an ethics overseer, I’m sure you agree. My own nomination was twice appreciated and twice tossed before email’s headline had time to soften from unread bold to regular type.

What surprises me is not that so many people lose out because of such an obvious conflict of interest. What I find surprising is how easily such clear conflicts of interest pass the tests of so many people.

Recently, I read that a couple national security officials hold investments in defense contractors.* Are these not the investors also standing really close to the machinations that launch our country into armed battles? And, please correct me if I’m wrong, do not those armed battlers buy their tools from defense contractors?

Questions for The Ethics Award

  1. How does your org root out conflicts of interest?
  2. What happens when you find one?
  3. How are you (evidently, unlike most parents) teaching your children to spot a conflict of interest?
  4. What’s the best way to help people see when they need to stay back from involvement in a thing that presents such a conflict?

Connect: Facebook (I appreciate the 'like'), LinkedIn (I'm honored to connect), Twitter (Ethics, Motivation, and the occasional dumbass stuff that makes us laugh--so, more motivation).

* Source: The Wall Street Journal.