Giving Compass’ Take:
• More business schools are starting to incorporate ethics and corporate social responsibility lessons into curricula for students to understand how corporations can take on social problem-solving.
• Why are these valuable lessons for aspiring business professionals? Will most businesses soon become socially-oriented?
Corporate misanthropes are nothing new, but Martin Shkreli is a special case. He became one of the most hated men in America for awhile when he gained the rights to a lifesaving drug and then boosted the price by 5,000%, basically because he could. That wasn’t illegal, just casually cruel.
Shkreli got an undergraduate business degree at Baruch College and some see him as a model for millennials to learn what not to do in business. But what lessons do business students learn from the “Pharma Bro” or corporations that behave badly?
Will in-depth analysis of Uber’s hiding a massive data breach teach newly minted MBAs to stand up for what’s right in their first jobs? If they’re faced with pressure to produce sales at all costs, will they succumb to temptation to follow the path of Wells Fargo and create false customer accounts?
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Questions about what business students are learning usually emerge after egregious examples of malfeasance. In 2008 and 2009, people wondered whether business schools should have borne some of the blame for ethical lapses at collapsing firms. Similar questions arose around the bankruptcies of Enron and WorldCom earlier that decade, and a recent book looks back at the role Harvard Business School played in the growth of corporate greed in the 1980s.
Business students today are definitely more likely to at least hear discussions about corporate social responsibility and ethics mixed in with classes on finance and management. Corporate social responsibility generally means actions taken by companies to measure, and take responsibility for, their effects on the wellbeing of the environment and the larger society.
This shift is being driven in part by the students themselves. A survey by Deloitte found millennials are generally pro-business, but think big corporations could be doing more to address society’s ills.
Read the full article on business school teaching ethics by Megan Kamerick at Fast Company.
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