In October, Paul Fiorelli was named director of the new center for business ethics and social responsibility in the Williams College of Business. We wondered what it is all about.
What is the new center and why was it formed? “My job is to make our faculty more comfortable with the question of ethics. We bring in business ethicists and experts in different functional areas to talk to the faculty. We want first to focus on the students but eventually to be a resource for the local business community.”
What are you trying to accomplish? “Our vision statement is ‘To help students and other Xavier stakeholders recognize and deal with ethical and values-related issues in the workplace.’ We hope to make the faculty more comfortable with ethics questions so they’ll bring it up in class more often and so students will get a lot of different perspectives on common ethical questions. If the entire University is thinking about questions like Enron and the impact it has on the business community, shareholders, the stock market and retirees, that’s a good thing for us to be doing.”
How does the creation of the center relate to issues like the Enron scandal? “I think Enron is the big stick that says it’s not all about making the most money in the shortest period. You should also look at other parties involved. You can set aggressive financial goals, but still do it in an ethical fashion. We want graduates to be able to see an ethical dilemma and push back when people encourage them to do wrong. There are lots of pressures to get things out the door. At times, you have to push back and say, ‘You can’t do this in a legal, ethical way.’ You may lose your job, but you won’t go to jail and you’ll save your reputation.”