Ethics Consultant as Hall Monitor: Business Ethics on “The Office”

“Let’s get ethical! Ethical! I wanna get ethical!”

A couple of weeks ago, the hit show The Office had an episode all about business ethics. In case you missed it, here’s the Two Minute Replay on NBC’s website. [Note: the link seems to be dead.]

It’s a nice send-up of the role(s) many people see (or just fear) ethics consultants and ethics officers playing in businesses: cheerleader, schoolmarm, formulaic applier of checklists.

Anyone with the word “ethics” attached to their job title (or just to their organizational role) will be able to sympathize with this lament, from the ethics consultant character in the episode:

People are suspicious of me. Turns out being the morality police does not make you popular. I should know, because in middle school I was the Hall Monitor and the kids used to stuff egg salad in my locker. I was just hoping middle school was over.

p.s. not all ethics consultants are like that!

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