Pelicans and camels – an update about ethics

A few months ago I wrote a post on quotas for women in senior roles in which I suggested that it was possible that companies with more women on their boards made better, more profitable, and possibly more ethical decisions.

So an article on Slate.com tweeted by @suziwilliamsbt caught my eye. The article discusses three studies due to be published in Social Psychology and Personality Science which seem to suggest that women are less willing to make the ethical compromises often required to succeed in business.

In a nutshell, the studies showed that women were less attracted to roles which might require ethical compromises; found ethical compromises more offensive than men did; and most interesting of all, associated business more strongly with immorality than men.

Sheryl Sandberg has recommended that women ‘lean in’ to their careers rather than disengaging from their career progression – but maybe one of the reasons women are disengaging is down to their perception of business and its demands on their principles. The banking crisis, tax avoidance by major companies, Enron and other corporate scandals have done nothing to change this perception. If these studies are correct in their conclusions, what we need is to find a way to retain more women in senior roles, precisely so that they can help bring about a better way of doing business.

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