The Jewish Independent) in 2003. The item described a course by the Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) and, although more than a decade has passed, I think part of the article is worth repeating:Recommend this post
Are the rules of conduct in business different from those in private life? Must a businessperson deal equitably with all, even the ignorant, weak and foolish? What constitutes fraud or theft? Who defines principle and where do the rules originate?
Nobel laureate Milton Friedman focused modern debate with his statement that ethics were not the concern of a corporation and that its only social responsibility was to increase profits. Others argue that good ethics are good business and a requisite of success. More recently, critics of business blamed amoral corporate governance for encouraging fraudulent, corrupt and illegal behaviors.
Friedman's thesis was broader than his famous quote.
"Only people have ethics," he said. "Ethics is me, the individual, as a person. I'm ethical or unethical." Clearly, Friedman believes that core individual values are important to everyone, corporate managers included.
The history of western business ethics reveals religious traditions at the root. Judaism's precepts, in particular, have provided important foundations for the ethical practice of business. However, perhaps in search of secularity, today's business schools hesitate to teach ethical issues. For example, among the almost 100 offerings of the University of British Columbia MBA program, only one six-week course specifically focuses on ethics.
Many other well-regarded business schools share this disinterest in an important subject. Some ethicists believe that results in a harmful void in the training of tomorrow's leaders. Writing in the Journal of Business Ethics, Martin Calkins states that we should "look to religions to understand better the working of big institutions and the motives that drive people to act morally."
According to Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman, "The first question after death is 'Nasata v'netata be'emunah' ('Did you conduct your business affairs with honesty and with probity?') This establishes ethical obligations between people as fundamental and demonstrates that social and ritual behavior rank equally as inseparable parts of Jewish morality."
JLI participants study the vital principle of Jewish law derived from the verse "You shall do that which is fair and good in the sight of the Lord." (Deuteronomy 6:18) Baitelman will demonstrate how that principle applies, not simply in business activities, but in all personal relationships and social obligations...
Comments about business schools teaching ethics may be out of date. I hope it is now a subject given more attention.