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Are personal ethics a good job performance forecasting tool?

FEI just published "CFOs, CEOs That Like to Cheat On Ashley Madison Like to Cheat Investors: Study".

The article states in its first paragraph:

“[Our] findings suggest a lack of dichotomy between personal and professional life, and cut against the common view that ethics are predominantly situational,” the research conducted by from academics at the University of Texas at Austin and Emory University. “Overall, our findings suggest that personal and professional ethics are closely related.”

What do you think?

http://daily.financialexecutives.org/cfos-ceos-like-cheat-ashley-madison-like-cheat-investors-study/

Answers

Anonymous
(HR Manager) |

I'm more surprised by "the common view that ethics are predominantly situational."

Fear of getting caught is terrifically situational. I don't know about ethics.

In my experience, seeing what I see in the cavalcade of human experience through HR, it's not hard to notice personal themes. The guy with the high FICO score is the same guy who is punctual and gets his work done.

The guy with the harassment complaint against him is the guy with the punctuality problem and the dodgy resume experience item and the warning letter and the wage garnishment and on and on.

If I had to pick which one might be cheating on his/her spouse, hmmm... let me think.

Not that folks can't have one off trouble. They can and that's understandable.

I just don't think we're ever talking about two totally different people... the one at home and the one at work.

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Are you the same Anonymous HR Manager that posted a thread complaining about "stereotyping" HR?

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

My take on these types of studies is that the results mimic a political/religious agenda.

If one would logically expand, not only of the exploitive title of the article, but the thought process, anyone who speeds would cheat investors, the same for smoking pot, getting drunk, etc.

Because one partakes in a certain behavior away from the office (or home) that doesn't mean a) they cross over and b) that its an immediate jump to dishonesty as it relates to fiduciary responsibility.

Anonymous
(Treasurer) |

Wayne, your reply says that you are predisposed to distrust any study that may line up with “a political/religious agenda.” Why not let the evidence speak for itself?

First, I highly doubt that a study from the U of TX at Austin and Emory U would come to these results if they were out to line up with a “religious” agenda. If this were the case, I believe the results would be quite different! As to a political agenda, I don't see how that might apply in this case.

As to extending the logic, as you say, to those who break the speed limit will cheat investors, the article referenced never makes such a claim. It simply found evidence (not irrefutable proof) that those willing to cheat on their spouses may be more prone to cheat at work. Not every unfaithful spouse cheats investors, nor does every executive who cheats investors cheat on their spouse, but could we admit that there may be a tendency that way?

The article ends with this quote from the study, “The findings support the classical view that virtues such as honesty and integrity influence a person’s thought and actions across diverse contexts.” Is this really so hard to believe? If so, why? Based on what moral guidance would someone be able to make such divisions in right and wrong, moral and immoral?

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Anonymous,

We have, at least in this country, a very puritanical view of morality. It is slowly changing, but studies like this, and your classifications of morality (religious based which became legal based) are a clear example.

It is apples and oranges, but the study as you say states "classical views". I don't think those views, in this instance, in this study, as it relates to the precept that cheating on one's significant other means one will cheat investors has any basis in reality.

Second, why would you doubt that a study from any source can not be done with a pre-existing slant? Would you be less doubtful if this same study came from Notre Dame, Brigham Young or Yeshiva University (all religious based colleges).

I think we all depend on statistical analysis of "a scientific sampling" as a forgone conclusion that the results are correct, and this is what the study is trying to say when it "It simply found evidence (not irrefutable proof)..."

Didn't Joseph McCarthy find the same evidence?

I'm sorry, but I tend to question broad statements that pique one's interest purposely. And while the job of the author or editor is to create an editorial title to pull the reader into the article/book, it is the broad based conclusions I just can't accept.

For the record, can this statement about cheating be true, absolutely, but so can a zillion other statements of cause and effect.

Anonymous User
Title: CFO
Company: Local Government Agency
(CFO, Local Government Agency) |

I've said for years that, people who can't handle their personal finances don't belong in corporate finance. I've cited that when someone ask me why a credit rating should matter in employment.

It's anecdotal but, this is a pattern I have seen time and time again. It's also why I'm not a fan of the all-to-often practice of putting a marketing or sales exec into the CEO role. I've watched them crash and burn numerous times taking previously solid companies down with them.

High flyers can build their own business. Not mine. There is a reason that some companies have been around for a hundred or more years and others flash and burn in less than ten. It's analogous to the original post here.

Cheaters. Big egos. BS artists. Self entitled personalities. They don't change just because they go to work. Probably because those are personality disorders and inherent to the individual.

Anonymous
(CFO) |

Are you saying that I should NOT employ someone who has declared bankruptcy because of medical expenses (pre ACA) thus a low credit rating?

Anonymous
(HR Manager) |

No, not saying that. Just as you're probably not saying that the advent of ACA prevents a low credit rating for medical cost reasons, right?

Anonymous
(CFO) |

First, are you the Anon (CFO) or the Anon (HR Manager) ?

Second, I was not the one that said that credit ratings matter in employment without any nuances. Whether the ACA can or cannot prevent low credit rating for medical cost reasons is irrelevant.

ArLyne Diamond
Title: Owner - President
Company: Diamond Associates
LinkedIn Profile
(Owner - President, Diamond Associates) |

I just finished writing an article about this in my newsletter - and I quoted a study that suggested that when an employee shows personal ethics (by comments, things in the cubicle etc.) that person is less likely to be asked to do something unethical by their management.

I also believe people are who they are - if they are ethical in their home life they will be ethical in their work life. Of course, there are exceptions - people who have affairs and yet presumably act ethically otherwise (I don't believe they really do - I think there is hypocrisy going on.)

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

ArLyne,

You are predisposing that your ethical tenets are universal. They are yours and you are entitled to them and to act on them.

One might say (and using marriage as the basis) that those who are in open marriages, poly-marriages, swinging are unethical and thus can't be ethical in the workplace.

The same holds true for the above conversation about bankruptcy or criminal records or a whole range of topics.

Here's a perfect example. I once had an applicant that was convicted of some level of child molestation. He was placed on the sex offender list. He did his time and was released. I wasn't at the trial and I didn't read the trial transcript.

We (those of us running the business) had a long hard discussion about the merits of hiring the individual (he was qualified). In the final analysis, it wasn't what he was convicted of the persuaded us not to hire him, but the restrictions and negative connotations surrounding his crime. It would have been easier to hire a convicted murderer (and I've hired ex-con's before without any issues).

Again, it wasn't because we felt he would cheat our clients, because he was "unethical" or "criminal", there were other issues surrounding his case.

As to your statement about ethical comments in one's cubicle and being asked to do unethical acts, that makes sense, but is not the same concept and my preceding comment.

It is easier to get someone to go along with a program if they are predisposed to the idea. Just look at some of the analysis in this year's Presidential election and why certain groups are backing certain candidates. If the candidate promotes an opinion that you share, you are more likely to see them in a better light than a candidate who doesn't.

If you say in your cubicle comments that show you have no qualms about over billing a client, and your manager feels that way as well and asks you to conspire to over bill, a) you got asked and b) you may join the conspiracy. But you again may not, but you did get asked.

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