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Money or ethics: what modern employees choose

How important is money? The research shows that pay is important for the employees of the companies only to some extent, while ethics, culture and social responsibility come to the first place. Philip Nichols, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania discussed this topic at the LvBS business breakfast named ‘’How to Turn Social Responsibility into a Business Tool?’’

Professor Nichols is convinced that a person, looking to the past, remembers some social aspects of his/her career, not material achievements. That is why it is so important to have business schools that teach more than just numbers. Besides there is a business that cares not only for the simplest economic mission (to make money) but for something much bigger and more important.

Some insights from our meeting:

  • As corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been manipulated lately, it is better to talk about maturity, because only a mature business understands that it improves its own prospects by improving the environment.
  •  Today public reaction to business actions is very important for business. The reaction of society to the unethical actions of companies is more painful than fines or other legal sanctions.
  •  Corporate social responsibility is not only a long-term prospect. Business receives specific benefits almost immediately. For example, there is sufficient evidence that companies with high ethical culture have more loyal workers and they can easier endure force majeure or reputational risks.
  •  Business that thinks strategically has already moved away from the traditional model of success which was based only on financial dimension. Impact on the environment, reputation, participation in solving social problems are equally important indicators of company success.

Philip M. Nichols is the Joseph S. Kolodny Professor of Social Responsibility in Business and Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Nichols received his AB from Harvard University and his JD and LLM (international law) from Duke University. Prior to joining the faculty at Wharton, Professor Nichols practiced international law with law firms in Boston and Washington. Professor Nichols conducts research on corruption, emerging economies, and the institutions of international trade. He has conducted fieldwork in or has worked with organizations in more than thirty countries on issues of corruption control or business development, has served as the Co-Chair of UN/CEFACT LG (the United Nations’ expert committee on trade facilitation), and as Co-Chair of the American Society of International Law’s interest group on Economic Law. He currently serves as Co-Chair of the interest group on Corruption. Professor Nichols has been given seventeen teaching awards while at the University of Pennsylvania including the Hauck Award, the Wharton School’s highest teaching award, and the Lindback Award, the University’s highest teaching award. Professor Nichols was also awarded the Class of 1940 Bicentennial Reunion Term Chair, given on the basis of extraordinary service to the University.

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