In the first quarter of 2020 we had 2 focus topics
1. organization and preparation of another PhiloBrunch that will take place end of March. This time the topic will be: "Ethics in the field of art and morals 4.0"
2. we ran another survey on a case study about practical ethics. Our topic was: A new job with a twist - what would you do?
1. PhiloBrunch "Ethics in the field of art and morals 4.0"
Our speaker Mr. Hubert Thurnhofer from Vienna is a gallery owner, philosopher, author, media consultant and maverickt hinker.
He has been running a gallery in Vienna since 1994. Since 1997 he has been managing the art space in the Ringstrasse galleries in the city of Vienna. In addition to 25 regular artists, the gallery "der Kunstraum" shows around 50 new positions every year. In addition, he was responsible for around a dozen start-ups as a PR agency, focussing on online communication and media work. Since then he has specialized in the field of corporate social responsibility. Besides various other works, he wrote and published the book "Moral 4.0" in 2017.
Introduction Hubert Thurnhofer and Moral 4.0
Lead-in presentation into the topic:
- Solving concrete ethical dilemmas as a gallery owner and art sponsor - "charity auctions"
- Moral 4.0: intention for the book
- Why does Internet 4.0 need morals 4.0
- Clarification of terms
- From practice: "There are many morals, but only one ethics!
- Do we need “new” basic values in the 21st century?
Case studies of how these "new" basic values work ...
Deep dive: ethical principles and their implementation in daily interactions with others
Feedback / discussion
2. Case study on practical ethics: A new job with a twist - what would you do?
In January we set up another case study and performed a survey concerning a hypothetical ethical dilemma and published the result.
We asked visitors of our website to read the text below that describes Gerhard's ethical dilemma and decide how they would solve the situation. Please note that this is not about providing a right or wrong answer. Reality is far too complex for that. Although based on a real situation, this exercise is purely virtual. This survey serves to reflect upon the dilemma and thus become more aware of one's own motives and solutions.
An ethical dilemma ... - What would you do?
Gerhard is a lawyer and, as a compliance officer, responsible for ensuring that the company complies with the law and its own ethical principles.
Seeking to develop professionally, he starts a new job with a new employer. The salary is right, he is responsible for a team of 12 employees, he reports directly to the legal board and he is responsible for compliance management of the entire company.
After the first few months in the new job, he has already established a good network within the new employer. Has established a cooperative relationship with his team, he works well with his peers, as with the board members. He feels completely comfortable in his new position.
But suddenly he is faced with current financial reports that go to all investors and the supervisory authorities, which gloss over the current financial situation. So they do not reflect the real company situation correctly. When he points this out to the Head of Legal & Compliance, the response is only: "Your predecessor had always confirmed these reports without 'whining'. Stop being difficult, you do want to pass probation, don't you? The topic is really complex and you are only asked to provide an 'assessment'."
Gerhard feels extremely uncomfortable because he has discovered a massive compliance issue here and he has a duty in this situation. He needs to make a decision. The entire board of directors is exerting ever greater pressure on him to finally release the report and do not want to know anything about his concerns - even stating they are damaging to the company's business.
His mind is racing:
- What should I do? If I release the report and it turns out that I knew it was incorrect; I may not only lose my job, I may even have to face legal consequences.
- I have so many financial obligations. I just can't afford to be unemployed after such a short time! My CV will be totally destroyed. How would I explain this to a new employer?
- The errors in the report are not that big and are largely based on 'assessments' - the board is right. In addition, my predecessor always accepted the reports - obviously without a guilty conscience. Maybe I'm exaggerating. Maybe I can find a justification.
- I have to act and officially reject this report as incorrect, that is my job. I'm not a crook. The numbers are just wrong and our investors trust the correctness. I have to endure the consequences, even if I get fired during the trial period. I want to be able to face myself in the mirror.
How do you view Gerhard's inner dialogue and his struggle with his conscience?
You are now Gerhard - what do you do? (results of the survey in brackets)
- I am not worried because my predecessor released all previous reports and never suffered any consequences. (0%)
- Losing my job would in fact damage my CV permanently and affect me financially. The incorrectness does not seem to be so substantial that I have to intervene. I will release the report like my predecessor. (0%)
- If I do not release the report but make the discrepancies public, this would possibly unsettle investors. I endanger my employer's solvency. My employer stands for sustainability and promotes good causes. So I shouldn't be so critical. The numbers in the report may not be totally accurate, but there is always some variance in these reports. I will release the report. (6.25%)
- I will go to the board of directors to discuss my reservations in detail. Even if the conversation does not change the incorrect numbers in the report, I will not do anything without coordinating with the board and will then implement this - either wait for the report to be corrected and then release it, or report the errors in the report. I will not do anything on my own. (62.50%)
- I have enough evidence to prove the errors in the report. The board obviously does not want to hear any of my reservations and has even blatantly threatened to fire me. I have no choice - I will not release the report no matter what the consequences for me personally. (12.50%)
- None of the above. (18.75%)