PDW Making Ethical Codes Meaningful

SIM and the Ethics Education Committee collaborated on a caucus held in Vancouver. In small groups, participants examined themes and potential revisions to the AOM Code of Ethics. We are now using the notes from that caucus as we work to propose changes to the content and format of the Code. In Anaheim, SIM will offer an excellent opportunity to continue the conversation, and consider ethical codes in the context of this year’s theme of “Meaningful Organizations.” I invited Scott Taylor and Laura Spence to share information about this important PDW, and I hope to see you there! –Janet Salmons, Chair, EEC

Making Ethical Codes Meaningful – Change, Community and Voice
Scott Taylor and Laura Spence

#161 MAKING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION MEANINGFUL: MOVING FROM DE JURE CODES TO DE FACTO PRACTICE
Friday August 5, 4.15-6.15pm
Sheraton Palm Hotel, Palm East. All welcome!

If we know anything with certainty in the field of business ethics, it’s that ethical codes don’t guarantee ethical actions. Many colleagues use the Enron code of ethics in teaching to demonstrate this – a spectacularly detailed, glossy, hortatory 65 page document, that was systematically ignored and derided by most working in that unhappy organization. An extreme example of code-practice disconnect, for sure, but one that we should always have in mind when we develop and promote ethical codes, such as the one to which all AOM members are automatic signatories. Need a reminder of what it you have agreed to? Take a look here.

It is no surprise that we don’t all have the content of the AOM code memorised, and that needn’t mean that we are acting in contradiction to it. Or indeed our practise might naturally exceed the expectations set out in the AOM code. However, there are times when observable practice contravenes the code.  Whatever your position on the value of codes of conduct – and they are subject to critique themselves of course – if you are member of AOM, you have committed to following this one.

To think through and act on the potential for code-practice disconnect, we decided to put together a PDW in Anaheim this year on the topic of bringing codes into practice with a view to identifying practical steps through an interactive workshop. We asked people from Africa, Europe, North America and South America to come together and make provocative presentations about putting formal professional ethics into meaningful practice. Presenters and discussants will talk about their experiences of working with police forces, social movements, and academic colleagues, in practising and analysing how ethics happen in complex organizations.

One of the intellectual reasons for putting this workshop together was the realisation that management researchers and educators have been writing and talking about the gap between codes and practice for as long as management and organization studies has been taught and written. This observation was the central pillar of, for example, Melville Dalton’s classic book Men Who Manage (first edition 1959!): official behaviours, represented in codes and guidelines, and unofficial actions, observed in everyday organizational life, were universally characterised by being markedly different. Why have codes if we don’t intend to act on them? And as the entries on this blog to date show, the key first step is to think, talk, and write about the gaps. That’s the first purpose of this workshop.

Like Dalton, though, we also want to take a second step, towards taking action. To that end, we’re creating a space where people can listen to and talk about very concrete possibilities: social activism, implementing quotas, protecting the conditions for voices to be heard, and occupying formal offices (in AOM and in our own employing institutions). None of these things are easy to do, especially when the everyday demands of academic work is so high, and when so many positions are precarious, framed by short-term contracts, pressures to publish, managerialism, and student assessments of our teaching.

However, if we don’t take up the challenge to bring what we know about ethics to our own profession as well as to the organizations that our students work in, then what, really is the point? First, we leave ourselves open to accusations of hypocrisy – if our own house isn’t clean, then we have no right to tell others how to maintain theirs. Second, we’re likely to experience significant cognitive dissonance – and again, we know from the research we do as a community, that’s not great to live with. Finally, it’s simply the right thing to do – as a profession, despite steadily degrading working conditions, many of us still have the privilege of being (mostly) in control of our own workplaces, institutions, and practices. In that sense, we have the freedom to think about and take pro-social, progressive action in our own working lives, as well as promoting this to others.

Do join us, and come armed with your challenges and solutions relating to the practice of ethics in the Academy of Management. We are keen to have a diverse and engaged workshop, so bring some innovation and energy too!

#161 MAKING DIVERSITY & INCLUSION MEANINGFUL: MOVING FROM DE JURE CODES TO DE FACTO PRACTICE
Chair:
Laura Spence, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK.

Presenters:

  • Rafael Alcadipani, Sao Paulo School of Economics/FGV-EAESP, Brazil. Practising diversity in extreme organizations.
  • Yvonne Benschop, Nijmegen School of Management, Radboud University, Netherlands. Formal and informal networking to promote diversity and inclusion.
  • Lauren McCarthy, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. Social movement and action, technology and feminism for inclusion.
  • Patrizia Zanoni, Hasselt University, Belgium. The challenges of engaged scholarship on diversity and inclusion.

Panel:

  • Alex Faria, Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration /FGV-EBAPE, Brazil. Practising diversity and inclusion through post- and decolonial thinking.
  • Sarah Gilmore, University of Portsmouth, UK. Bureaucracy and holding office in service of inclusion.
  • Scott Taylor, University of Birmingham, UK. Building inclusive communities.

    Discussants:

  • Eileen Kwesiga, Bryant University. HRM and diversity.
  • Nceku Nyathi, University of Cape Town, South Africa. Values based leadership.

Sponsored by the Diversity & Inclusion Theme Committee, Critical Management Studies, Gender & Diversity in Organizations, Social Issues in Management.