Issue 1: August 2011
Welcome to the first issue of SETTING THE EXAMPLE, our brand new newsletter in which we will share our thoughts on current issues that relate to ethics, explore different concepts of ethics and values, and help you improve ethics in the workplace.

In this issue, we look at what went wrong at the News of the World, we explore the concept of an ethical tipping point and ethics as the new "fault line" of leadership, and we introduce our new Ethics Guide.


The scandal arising from the News of the World (NOTW) phone hacking has continued to escalate. So too has the reaction, with Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister, commenting that News International, publisher of NOTW, has “descended from the gutter to the sewer”.

This prompts the question, what failed? Given that ethical behaviour is mostly shaped by values, rules (including laws and regulations) and leadership, it would be fair to conclude that they all failed. Values were abandoned, rules and laws were ignored, and leadership did not provide guidance - all reflecting an approach of “results at any cost”.



That much is expected – arguably demanded – of leaders today is not new. Much has always been expected of leadership. What is new though is that leadership action is much more visible than previously, thanks to vastly improved technology.

This visibility is particularly pertinent as regards leadership fault lines. Leadership fault lines are much like geographical fault lines – particularly as regards their potential to cause great damage and harm once they have been activated and exposed.

Today the leadership terrain brings with it new fault lines - not replacing those of the past, but rather adding to them.



We have just launched The Ethics Guide, a compact booklet on ethics in the workplace which can be customised to include the organisation’s values and code of conduct. The Ethics Guide is a useful resource for all employees and for any organisation wanting to more effectively manage their workplace ethics. It addresses key concepts, topics and workplace issues, such as

• defining ethics and workplace ethics
• why ethics matters: the costs and the benefits
• how ethical is your organisation: measuring your ethical status
• managing ethics: to improve ethical behaviour and reduce
   unethical behaviour
• ethical dilemmas

To place your order, or to find out more, please click here.

Would you cheat if the benefits were shared?

According to a series of experiments by Scott S. Wiltermuth of the University of Southern California, people's likelihood to cheat doubled, from 21% to 43%, if the benefits were split with another person. The experiments, in which hundreds of people participated in word games and other activities online, suggest that splitting the benefits makes cheating seem less unethical, Wiltermuth says.

Source: Harvard Business Review

Defining ethics

Workplace ethics centres on what is good/right. The good/bad and right/wrong choices are shaped by the values in the workplace, by applicable laws, rules or regulations, and by the organiation’s leadership and culture. These choices are reflected in words, actions, decisions and behaviour relative to the organisation and its stakeholders. Collectively, these choices and consequent actions define the organisation’s ethical status.

“Relativity applies to physics, not ethics”
Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist (1879-1955)

“I found the Ethics Monitor a valuable tool to measure, monitor and proactively manage the ethical status of my business.”

Digby Glover, CEO, TWP Holdings


About Ethics Monitoring and Management Services (Pty) Ltd

Ethics Monitoring and Management Services was started by Cynthia Schoeman in late 2010 to encourage companies to manage ethics proactively and to help companies improve ethics in the workplace. Cynthia has developed The Ethics Monitor, a web-based survey which enables leaders to measure, monitor and proactively manage their organisation’s ethical status. Ethics Monitoring and Management Services also offers ethics talks, workshops and consulting.

Contact Us

Cynthia Schoeman
Managing Director, Ethics Monitoring & Management Services (Pty) Ltd
011 447 7661; 082 821 3729;

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