Business Ethics

Learning Goal:

    • Students will understand 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.



We'll start with the video above for a view on how morals can be skewed by perspective.

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. We will form groups (number off/playing cards/monster picker) and use the document to discuss and act out the scenarios. To help improve our skits, we will look at some guidelines on improv.

    • Each group will act out their scenario. Be ready to share at least three of the Questions to Consider you discussed.

lie truth sign


Use this link to create a sketchnote board that we will add to throughout our lesson. Sketchnoting is a type of visual note-taking. Feel free to use outside images as well as the built-in icons. We'll look at editing, searching, zooming, collaborating, and sharing/downloading. 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 will watch the video on this page (Edpuzzle video edit) about ethical leadership and why some leaders fall victim to unethical decisions. Team up with another person. Read the case study about Dennis Kozlowski and answer questions three and four. Add the answers and a short reflection on the video to your sketchnotes. Be ready to share.

Howard Schultz (pictured) is recognized for his leadership while at Starbucks. This article gives a glimpse of his backstory and is an interesting read. The article describes how Schultz left a secure job to join the small (at that time) Seattle coffee business, and he tried for a year to get the job. Here is a brief timeline for the company. Great leaders set a standard for an organization's ethics and culture. For Starbucks, this can be seen in these two case (short) studies (longer) where the company responded ethically when faced with difficult situations. We'll talk about the shorter example together. Hit the web and find someone you feel is an ethical leader. It doesn't have to be a business person. Maybe a coach for example. Add the name of the person and some reasons why to your sketchnotes.

How do we build more ethical leaders and companies? We'll check out the video on this page to answer that question. We'll talk about discussion questions five and seven together. Team up with a partner and read the case study on The Costco Model. Answer questions two and three. Add the answers to your sketchnotes. Be ready to share.

We've talked about ethical issues related to the Volkswagen emission scandal. Why did this happen? We'll discuss it together and add info to your sketchnotes.

Let's use our book to look learn about a code of conduct or code of ethics. Here is a press release about Best Buy's code of ethics. If you were running a company, what is one thing you would include on the code of ethics? Add it to your sketchnote board. Be ready to share.

Share a link to your sketchnote board and add it to this collaborative page (Share link). Make sure to include your class hour and name/s.

ethics unwrapped

Team up with another person. 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. SKIP??

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).

The next section of your book (linked above) describes the ethical challenges shown below. Use your book or another source to learn more about each one. We will overview each one briefly together. Think about how these challenges might apply to the case you explored. UPDATE EXAMPLES??

    • Gifts - When is a gift just a gift and not a bribe?

    • Bribe - One example

    • Conflict of interest - Here are some examples

    • Honesty and Integrity - Being honest and doing the right thing

    • Whistleblowing - Adult tattletale for something important


Step 1 - Share a Google Doc with your team and think of a movie or TV show or book.

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. The scenarios can be made up using the characters and setting of the show/movie you chose. You can't use Scooby-Doo. For example:

Gift: Shaggy gives Scooby a mega sandwich.

Bribe: 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.

Conflict of Interests: The gang has five new cases they need to investigate. They end up helping Fred's uncle first even though the other cases are more important.

Honesty & Integrity: Shaggy and Scooby find the vampires treasure hidden in a secret room. They think about all the food the gold could buy, but ultimately decide to return it to the bank because it is the right thing to do.

Whistleblowing: Velma and Daphne work for a company that manufactures Scooby Snacks. They decide to come forward as whistleblowers to tell the authorities about the sexual discrimination they face and unfair working conditions.

Step 3 - Choose your best example from above and bring it to life as a visual (eg. whistleblowing). This could be a skit you act out and record on your device. This could be multi-frame comic (maybe Google Drawing or Canva). This could be a poster or Infographic. This could be a video slideshow or PowToon. It's up to you. We'll look at some examples together.

Step 4 - Add your visual and document to this collaborative page (2nd). 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.

Step 6 - Show me your project and comments in class for credit. 15 Pts

Here are some visual examples from last year.

The Challenge - Ethical Challenge Research & Reflection 15 pts

This is a solo mission. 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. Make sure all the info is in your own words. Send me your document on Classroom.