“We are at a moment in the history of humankind where we have this tremendous moral and ethical shift, and we have to make sure that we are aware of that,” says Douglas Andrews, an executive vice president of the advocacy group Corporate Responsibility International, which is working on the new curriculum for the new Stanford Business School.
Andrews says there’s been a backlash to the new ethics course from some of the tech industry’s most powerful and wealthy members.
“It’s just a lot of ego that has gotten in the way of good work, which should be the focus of our courses,” he says.
“So this has been a very hard conversation for us, and it’s going to be an uphill battle.”
A major focus of the Stanford Business school is how to bring ethical thinking and values into the workplace, a major focus for some of its students.
Andrews’ course will be called “Ethics for Leadership.”
He says the students are learning to make better decisions, not just to win, but to do what’s right.
But Andrews is also hoping the course will serve as a platform for ethical thinking among business leaders and others in the industry.
Andrews is a graduate of Stanford’s business school, where he earned his PhD in 2011.
He also is a partner at a Silicon Valley consulting firm and served as a member of the board of directors at the nonprofit Stanford Business Review.
Andrews said he expects to have about a dozen of the students in his class in the fall.
He hopes that by helping to create a curriculum that is relevant to all business owners, they can help move society forward.
Andrews told the Stanford business school he had already discussed with students at Stanford what ethical behavior is and how to best live by it.
“The idea is to make it clear, in the right way, that the principles are there,” Andrews says.
The first step, Andrews says, is to teach them how to evaluate whether their company’s ethical code is being followed.
Students will learn about what is ethical behavior and how it can be tested.
Andrews also says the ethics course is part of a larger effort to bring ethics into the public sphere.
He says a lot is happening in the world of business, but not enough is being done on the part of people in the workplace.
“There’s a lot more going on in our world than we think,” Andrews said.
“People are becoming more connected to each other, and that means that we’re more connected as well.”
Andrews says a great place to start is with a “how-to” guide to ethical behavior, like this one by the nonprofit Business Ethics Institute, which was founded in the 1970s by former President Bill Clinton.
Andrews expects to see students in the class take part in similar workshops at some of their other employers.