Indiana State University Newsroom



ETHICS: The primary building block of business

March 27, 2006

NOTE: The President's Scholarship is the top competitive scholarship at Indiana State (students in top 10 percent of high school class with at least 3.7 out of 4.0 GPA). Networks Scholarships are for students studying any area within the realm of financial services (marketing, finance, insurance and risk management, accounting, etc.). Gongaware Scholarships are for students specifically majoring in the field of insurance and risk management.

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - "Treat others as you would expect to be treated." Much like the Ten Commandments of life, this is essentially one of the Ten Commandments of business as well, according to Jeff Taylor, president of Pearson, Inc., and one of several presenters at Indiana State University's first-ever conference on "Ethics and Corporate Responsibility," March 27.

The conference was sponsored by ISU's College of Business and Networks Financial Institute at ISU, and the university's Networks, President's and Gongaware scholars worked hard to make the event a tremendous success. Conference planning and logistics are part of the scholars' junior year objectives - to enhance both experiential learning opportunities and leadership skills.

According to Danielle Thompson, a Terre Haute junior and Networks Scholar studying insurance and risk management at Indiana State, coordinating this effort enabled students to make solid connections between theory and practice and to tie content to topics they discuss in the classroom, day in and day out.

"All of our topics are current and touch on issues impacting businesses and business leaders today," said Thompson, who served as co-chair of the planning committee with Ashley Cameron, a fellow Networks Scholar.

It is possible that this has never been more true. These days, it's hard to watch a news report or read a newspaper or magazine without coming across a story on unethical business practices. Enron, Tyco, WorldComm - we're familiar with them all.

Indiana State University's conference was just one way of shining a light on the issue and of bringing business' bright minds together for discussions on topics such as handling ethical dilemmas, detecting accounting fraud, truth in advertising, spying on employees, and many others.

Taylor was one of those bright minds. A 1975 alumnus of the accounting program at ISU, he discussed "Maintaining Public Trust in a Competitive World" as part of his presentation in ISU's Hulman Memorial Student Union. He said a balance among stakeholders is essential to maintaining public trust and to achieving financial success. "In the long run, you have to do both to be successful," he said.

Along with his "Ten Commandments" analogy, Taylor explained that we need to think of it in terms of a business transaction.

"If I buy your product," he said, "what would I expect from the quality and support?" His advice to students? "As you go out into the business world, remember that. Behave as you would expect to be treated in all matters."

Taylor's employer, Pearson, Inc., is the largest producer of K-12 textbooks in the country and is the U.S. holding company of Pearson plc, which includes Penguin Books, The Financial Times and other household names. As president, he is responsible for all of Pearson's U.S. federal and state government relations programs, for its involvement with federal and state educational organizations and for its U.S. investor relations and external communications.

Last fall, ISU's top student scholars interviewed ISU faculty to identify important and current issues related to ethics and corporate social responsibility in seven major business areas, including insurance and risk management, finance, marketing, operations management and analysis, management information systems, management/human resources and accounting. The conference featured break-out sessions with expert speakers and industry panelists, and the scholars facilitated and moderated the panel discussions throughout the day.

Larry Boulet (B.S., '74) was another of the presenters. Boulet is president of Boulet Consulting in Indianapolis and is president of ISU's Foundation Board of Directors.

"Ethics is something that permeates all of business," he said. "When it all comes down to it, it's just doing what your mother told you, just doing the right thing. I hope they (students) use the knowledge they've gained in all aspects of doing business."

Cris Halter (B.S.,'76), a graduate of ISU's accounting program and now owner of Halter Ferguson Financial, Inc., said she wished there had been discussions about ethics and conferences such as this when she was in school.

"It's a terrific idea to begin planting the seed about ethics," said Halter, a former member of ISU's Foundation Board. "You want to be able to get up every day and look at yourself in the mirror and feel good about what you're doing and feel good about the organization you're a part of, and I don't think you can do that unless you practice ethics.

?There's nothing magical about this. Just do the right thing."

"The problem (organizing the conference) that was placed in front of these students was immense, and they did a tremendous job" said Art Sherwood, assistant professor of management and senior fellow for leadership development for ISU's Networks Financial Institute. "I've never seen anything completely student driven that's of this magnitude."

Organizers of the event were hoping for more than 300 participants for the first conference, but were pleasantly surprised.

"This year's registration numbers have far exceeded our expectations," said Thompson, who reported that nearly 450 attended the conference, including students, alumni, industry representatives and community members. "With ethics being such a hot topic in business, I'm sure the conference will continue to attract quite a following for years to come."

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CONFERENCE CONTACTS: Art Sherwood, assistant professor of management at ISU and senior fellow for leadership development for ISU's Networks Financial Institute, (812) 237-2094 or mfarthur@isugw.indstate.edu; or Danielle Thompson, Terre Haute junior, Networks Scholar,dthompson12@indstate.edu.

WRITER: Maria Greninger, associate director, Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, (812) 237-4357 or m-greninger@indstate.edu

Story Highlights

Indiana State hosted its first-ever conference on "Ethics and Corporate Responsibility," March 27. Sponsored by ISU's College of Business and Networks Financial Institute at ISU, the conference gave Networks, President's and Gongaware scholars hands-on experience in planning and executing a conference. It also is one of the scholars' junior year objectives - to enhance their experiential learning opportunities and leadership skills.

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