Ethical Leadership and Ethical Legacies


Bibi Mehtab Rose-Palan


6th edition (2016/2017)


Culture / Scandals

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Lately, the financial sector has been perceived as being more unethical than any other. This paper will take as an example the Wells Fargo scandal. It shows how, once again, employees are at the heart of an ethical crisis in financial services. Such crises have now become a great concern for moral psychologists, for spiritual leaders, and for behavioural scientists who are trying to understand what led to that situation and what caused such behaviours. How can 5,300 employees all lose their moral compass?

The truth is that we are all vulnerable. Despite our good intentions, we may sometimes be forced to make choices we never thought we would make. According to former prosecutor Serina Wash (2016), most of the corruption today comes from “ordinary good people” with whom you “could well have coffee with that morning. And they were still good people who’d made terrible choices.”

Lisa Ordonez, Vice Dean and Professor at the University of Arizona talked about how “goals have a strong effect of causing tunnel vision, narrowly focusing people at the expense of seeing much else around them, including the potential consequences of compromised choices made to reach goals.”

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