Ethics Rankings Is/Are Interesting

Here’s yet again still another further additional corporate ethics ranking, this time from Ethisphere, an on-line compliance & ethics magazine: 2007 WORLD’S MOST ETHICAL COMPANIES

The page linked above includes a chart showing winners in each of 30 different industries (interesting in itself), but you have to register if you want more details.

Generally, Ethisphere gets high marks for being interesting reading, and especially for having a sense of humour (whichs is way too rare in the world of ethics). Another of their articles, 50 Codes of Conduct Benchmarked, includes both a serious assessment along with lots of snippy annotations (such as pointing out that the code for the Janus Capital Group “Comes across like the operating manual for a nuclear powerplant,” and noting that the code for Nomura Holdings is “Basically a 5 page haiku.”)

Since the folks at Ethisphere have a sense of humour, I hope they won’t mind some teasing. As an educator I have to register a grammatical complaint. Here are the opening sentences of the “Most Ethical” ranking:

Ethics are absolute. Business ethics are relational.

I love hate to be picky, but they’re misusing the word “ethics.” “Ethics” is a singular noun that happens to have an “s” at the end (just like “mathematics,” and “linguistics”) . So, it should read “Ethics is absolute. Business ethics is relational.” There are a few limited cases in which “ethics” can be taken as plural, but this isn’t one of them.
(Sometimes my students make the same mistake. But a magazine devoted to the topic?!)
By the way, I did alert the magazine to the error, and then waited 24 hours before posting this, just to be fair.

2 comments so far

  1. Anonymous on

    There are many ethical issues in business today and include Cyber crime, privacy issues, financial mismangement, international corruption, and loss of privacy-employees vs employers. I think the number one issue today is financial mis-management as evidenced by the Obama bailout bill. How would you rank the others and are these ethical issues the top 5 issues or do you think something else is more of an ethical issue.Eric

  2. Chris MacDonald on

    Eric:The short answer: I wouldn’t. Why would a ranking be useful? There are plenty of issues to be concerned about, and which one is most important will depend on whether you’re a small business owner, corporate CEO, regulator, legislator, activist, or consumer.Chris.

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