TMCnet News

College Graduates in Search of Ethics Agreement, Says Director of University of Redlands Banta Center for Business, Ethics and Society
[May 19, 2011]

College Graduates in Search of Ethics Agreement, Says Director of University of Redlands Banta Center for Business, Ethics and Society

REDLANDS, Calif. --(Business Wire)--

Graduates of the class of 2011 will soon find themselves out of the classroom and on with their careers.

"This transition can be a recipe for happiness or heartache," says Jeffery Smith, director of the Banta Center for Business, Ethics and Society at the University of Redlands. Graduates who "find themselves in an environment that is in agreement with their personal values can more seamlessly transition from personal to professional life.

"When a graduate lands in a work environment that conflicts with his or her values, dissatisfaction and disillusionment can take their toll - on both the employee and employer," Smith says. "That is why it is so important for graduates to match not only their skill and experience with an organization, but their ethical identity as well."

The field of corporate ethics has had a presence in the C-suite for less than 20 years, according to Tim Mazur, chief operating officer of the Ethics and Compliance Officer Association. While it began in response to defense contracting practices during President Ronald Reagan's administration, today organizations as diverse as Starbucks and Newmont Mining are known for their social responsibility and ethics codes.

"Ethics responsibilities and leadership are found at the top of companies from the CEO to the Board of Directors, but they are the responsibility of every employee and embedded in all management decisions. Organizations are looking for candidates with a strong work ethic and values," Mazur says.

To determine if the organization with which a graduate plans to interview or accept a position is a match, Smith advises graduates to do the following:

1. Visit the organization's website to see if it provides public information about its code of conduct and company values.

2. Listen carefully when the interviewer gives an example of how the company met a specific challenge or handled a recent controversy.

3. Ask questions about the company's communications climate or listen for clues when the interviewer explains how decisions are made or controversy is handled. Open, transparent communication is a positive indicator of an ethical company.

4. Graduates should ask themselves what type of values they want the organization to be known for and examine the company responses and public face to see how it measures up.

5. Be prepared to respond to questions about his or her personal values and ethics and provide examples of situations where they had to confront decisions that might have challenged them.

Smith emphasizes that ethical decisions are not silo-styled decisions in and of themselves. Rather, ethics are integral to every leadership decision from finance and human resource questions, to supplier relations, logistics, and more.

"Effective leadership has by necessity an ethical component mindful of trust, fairness and open communication. Graduates seeking such an environment should take steps to match that desire with the companies they seek to work for after college," he says.


Jeffery Smith, Director, Banta Center for Business, Ethics and Society, University of Redlands, (909) 748-8785; cell: (909) 557-7416

Tim Mazur, Chief Operating Officer, Ethics and Compliance Officer Association, (781) 647-9333; cell: (920) 644-3262

About University of Redlands:

The University of Redlands is a private liberal arts and sciences university consistently ranked among the best universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Since the university's founding in 1907, Redlands has emphasized academic rigor, personal development and interdisciplinary studies. An Education + culture of elevated learning provides students with a holistic education that results in a unique life transformation. Redlands students learn equally about service, commitment, life and the world. As a pioneer in the burgeoning field of spatial learning, Redlands integrates spatial learning across academic disciplines. At the innovative Johnston Center, students have the opportunity to design their own custom major. Home to one of the oldest accredited music programs in California, the conservatory-style School of Music educates the whole musician. Adults may continue their education with programs tailored for working professionals at the Schools of Business and Education, offering evening degree-completion and graduate programs at eight convenient locations.

[ Back To's Homepage ]