Our guest today is Alison Taylor, clinical associate professor at New York University Stern School and Business Executive Director of Ethical Systems, a non-profit research collaboration focused on bringing the best ideas on business ethics from academia into the corporate sector. She has had a diverse career working in corporate investigations in emerging markets, leading her to question the role of culture and leadership in businesses. Her political science, history, and organizational psychology background has given her a unique perspective on business ethics. She believes that society has lost consensus on what it means to be a good business and her upcoming book aims to clarify this confusing debate.
She argues that organizations should focus less on rules and compliance programs and more on building ethical decision-making capacity. They should bring in the wisdom of the collective and have debates about gray areas to jointly make decisions based on the collective’s wisdom. Rather than treating ethics as a fundamental black-and-white issue, she suggests building thoughtful capacity for ethical reasoning among the workforce and society.
We talk about Elon Musk’s decision to lay off the director of Ethics, Transparency, and Accountability at Twitter, she believes that he may have underestimated the complexity of content moderation and is now facing the consequences of his decision.
She raises the topic of transparency and questions the notion that more transparency leads to more trust in businesses, despite the increase in information available about corporate conduct over the past two decades. She argues that businesses need to change how they think about ethics and be more transparent and honest, while also being more restrained in what they promise to achieve. She suggests corporations should have a more focused strategy on what they can and cannot solve and stop exaggerating and spinning a story to deflect scrutiny. Finally, she explains how leaders can navigate ethical dilemmas and make decisions in the best interest of their organization.