Business Ethics

Learning Goal:

  • Students will understand the what business ethics is
  • Students will understand how leadership impacts an ethical business culture
  • Students will be able to identify ethical and appropriately respond to ethical challenges
In class, we'll cover the following sections from our book using the links and materials below.

Ethical and Legal Behavior

lie truth sign
How do you define ethics? Talk to people close by. We'll use your book to talk about ethics, ethical vs legal behavior, and a situation at American Express. 

Sometimes it can be hard making the ethical choice. We'll use this document to look at some ethical situations (start on pg. 12). We will form groups (number off/playing cards) and use the document to discuss and act out the scenarios. 

Building Business Ethics

Howard Schultz
Use this link to create an icon board (visually heavy) that we will add to throughout our lesson. We'll look at duplicating slides and adding icons. You can collaborate with one other person in class (close proximity or remotely). 

Ethical companies start with the leaders and the culture they create. Let's look at the quote and information from your book about encouraging ethical behavior. We'll watch this video from Inc. on How to be an Authentic and Ethical Leader. Add info on ethical leadership to your icon board. We'll also look at the video on this page about ethical leadership. 

Howard Schultz (pictured) is recognized for his leadership while at Starbucks. This article gives a glimpse of his backstory and is an interesting read. 

Lego MovieWe'll use Lego to look at one example of company culture. Use this link to go to Socrative (BRAINERDA220) and vote to finish the video. Lego has seen their ups and downs and almost filed for bankruptcy. Add info about company culture and/or Lego to your icon board. Add a company you feel has a good culture. Positive company culture leads to ethical behavior. 

We've talked about ethical issues related to the Volkswagen emission scandal. Why did this happen? Put on your detective hat to determine what went wrong at VW. We'll discuss it together and add info to your icon board. 

Let's use our book to look learn about a code of conduct or code of ethics. Hit the web and find an example code of conduct/ethics (Google name of company + code of conduct). Add info/examples on code of conduct/ethics to your icon board. Be ready to share. 

Change the sharing on your icon board to be 'anyone with the link can view' and add it to this collaborative page (get shareable link). 


ethics unwrapped
Ethical Challenges

Team up with one to two people. You must work with at least one other person; I will partner you up if you don't find someone (take two minutes to relocate if needed). 

Choose one of the ethical cases from this link. Read and discuss the case. Answer one of the questions at the bottom of the case. I will randomly pick a few groups to talk about their case and their question.

The next section of your book (linked above) describes the ethical challenges shown below. Use your book or another source to learn about each one. Think about how these challenges might apply to the case you explored. 
  • Gifts - when is a gift just a gift?
  • Bribe
  • Kickback
  • Conflict of interest
  • Honesty and integrity 
  • Whistleblowing
Step 1 - Share a Google Doc with your team and think of a movie or TV show. 

Step 2 - Using the characters and/or plot of the movie/TV show, create an example of each ethical challenge listed above. Think Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, movies or shows you both saw as a kid. For example:

The Mystery Machine rolls up to an old abandoned warehouse. The gang needs to go inside to investigate, but Scooby is too scared. They tell Scooby he will get five Scooby-Snacks if he goes in. 

Step 3 - Choose your best example and bring it to life as a visual. This could be a skit you act out and record on your device. This could be multi-frame comic (maybe Google Drawing). This could be a poster or Infographic. This could be a video slideshow or PowToon. It's up to you. 

Step 4 - Add your visual and document to this collaborative page (1st, 2nd, 4th). Ideally, you would add these as a shareable link (anyone with the link can view). Make sure to include your team member's names. 

Step 5 - Give feedback to at least one other group. Use a system of two compliments and one suggestion for your feedback. Rate their visual on a five-point scale. Comment on your group's feedback. Remember to keep things constructive and positive. 

The Challenge - Ethical Challenge Research & Reflection 20 pts

Find a recent news article/story that deals with business ethics. Create a Google Document with the following:
  • One to two paragraphs summarizing the article
  • One to two paragraphs describing the ethical challenge or issues
  • *Reflection on the article (thoughts, feelings, reactions, etc.) and how you would have acted if you were in that situation 
*Don't use Volkswagen. Try searching for 'business ethics', 'unethical companies', 'business scandals', etc.

I recommend making a copy of this template. Send me your document on Schoology.


Find other ethical company culture examples