||Dr. Robert Sexty’s
copy of The Corporation includes public performance rights
so that he may screen the movie in his classes.
When Dr. Robert Sexty wanted to screen a movie
on campus to raise awareness and encourage discussion about
ethics, he ended up walking into an ethical situation before
ever pressing “Play.” He discovered that special
clearances are required to screen movies even if it’s
for non-commercial purposes.
“Unless you have received permission from the movie’s
distribution company, it is probably illegal to screen a movie
on campus, even if you’re using it for a good cause.”
He added that institutions are under increasing scrutiny to
ensure that copyright regulations are being enforced.
With his copy of The Corporation in hand, complete with a
sticker giving him public performance rights, Dr. Sexty says
illegal movie screenings are just one of the activities with
ethical implications taking place at Memorial. As a member
of the Faculty of Business Administration’s Task Force
on Ethics, he hopes to raise awareness of the ethical considerations
of our daily decisions and behaviours.
Established in 2004, the task force is helping to develop
an ethics program that will encompass all aspects of the faculty’s
activities. Their goal is to make the faculty’s stakeholders
aware of the ethical implications of their behavior rather
than state “do’s and don’ts” or “rights
“We’re focusing on a values-based program rather
than a rules-based one,” he said. And it appears the
Faculty of Business Administration is the only one taking
this approach. “As far as I know, no other department
on campus, or business school across the country, is doing
something like this.”
While other groups may be establishing codes of conduct, Dr.
Sexty believes a values-based system is more effective and
long-lasting. “There are countless situations that have
ethical implications. It’s not possible to write a rule
that applies to every situation; however, if you create awareness
of values, you give people the tools to make their own moral
But that awareness isn’t limited to course curriculum.
“We have to think beyond teaching about ethics as a
single course. Everyone should be a part of the learning process,
not just students. Ethics needs to be incorporated in everything
we do and that has implications for faculty, staff and students.”
He points to the university’s Banner System database
as an area for improvement. “Faculty members should
not have access to every student’s academic record and
address. I rely on administrators to ensure prerequisites
have been met and beyond that there is no need for me to have
access to student records.” The task force has prepared
a motion urging the university to limit faculty members’
access to the Banner System to their own class lists.
While corporate scandals have brought business ethics to the
forefront in recent months, Dr. Sexty, who has been teaching
in this area since 1974, believes that all students at Memorial
must be prepared to face the reality of moral issues. “Tales
of corporate corruption have increased our awareness of ethics
in business but ethics applies to all aspects of society,
not just to business.”
Despite some beliefs that “business ethics” is
an oxymoron, Dr. Sexty says it’s no surprise that it’s
the Faculty of Business Administration leading the way on
this initiative. “We’re very open to criticism
and new ideas. Our approach is to think about how we can improve
capitalism rather than focus on blaming it.”
In keeping with the principles of accountability, the Task
Force’s web site details their objectives and activities.
They recently posted a draft values statement and encourage
people to submit their comments to the discussion forum. For
more information, go to http://ethics.busi.mun.ca.