Good Business: More than 550 people learn about ethics, corporate responsibility during ISU conference

April 15, 2011

More than 550 people learned about ethics and corporate social responsibility during a conference organized by business students at Indiana State University.

The sixth annual Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility Conference had a theme of "One size fits all?" and included a variety of speakers and presentations about ethical principles and situations. Topics ranged from health care to tenure for university professors, to globalizing ethics.

"We wanted to be sure that we had a variety of choices, so that everyone would find a session of interest to attend, so that's why we offered everything from student-focused sessions to broader sessions," said Kelsie Noble, an ISU junior double majoring in business management and marketing who helped plan the conference.

About 575 people attended the daylong event. The conference was organized by 13 juniors in Networks Financial Institute's Networks Professional Development Program in ISU's Scott College of Business.

"The topic of ethical issues is important to everyone, as ethical dilemmas exist in every industry," said junior accounting major Brittany Cuthbertson, who also helped organize the conference. "It was important for us to provide a wide variety of perspectives, from professors to people in the outside business community."

Speakers came from a variety of fields. Kelly Spencer, an information technology manager for a large insurance company, presented "The monsters of management" workshop. He was impressed that ISU dedicated a conference to ethical development.

"In my experience, it's so critical that individuals in business ground themselves well, and early, on ethical behavior," Spencer said. "Arguably, as they advance in business, the ethical issues get larger and individuals become more responsible for establishing ethical norms for a growing set of people and areas of the business."

ISU professors also presented during the conference. Robert Guell, economics professor, led a presentation about the ethical considerations of payday lenders.

While payday lenders typically require high interest rates on their short-term loans, Guell said that during his presentation, he brought up examples of when it would be an optimal time to utilize the lender. He gave the example of a college student who commutes to campus suffering car trouble just days before final exams. If there were no other options, the student would benefit from getting the loan to pay for the repairs needed, so that the final exams could be taken, Guell said.

The presentation fits perfectly with the "One size fits all?" conference theme, he added.

"You've got a perfectly reasonable use sitting right next to the data that says nearly no one uses it in a perfectly reasonable way, and therein lies the ethical dilemma," Guell said of payday lending.

Michael G. McMillan, director of ethics and professional standards at the CFA Institute, and Catherine S. Herr, senior director of global manufacturing procurement at Eli Lilly and Co., each gave a keynote speech during a lunch session.

ISU sophomore Tammy Rice attended both presentations, which she enjoyed. Rice, a psychology and human development/family studies double major from Ferdinand, Ind., liked how Herr utilized actual occurrences in her speech.

"You always hear what you should do," Rice said, "but it's better to have it in a real-life situation, and explained to you that way."

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/Ethics-Conference-2011/040411ethicsconference-6274/1240816713_P6SEx-L.jpg (ISU/Tony Campbell)
Bill Wilhelm, coordinator and associate professor of business education, information and technology, helps lead a presentation at the sixth annual Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility Conference at Indiana State University on April 4. Wilhelm led the presentation with Charles Giesting, corporate ethics manager for Rolls-Royce North America.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/Ethics-Conference-2011/040411ethicsconference-6297/1240817105_B448f-L.jpg (ISU/Tony Campbell)
Indiana State University student Brad Ketzner helps a conference attendee register for the event. About 600 people attended the annual event.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/Ethics-Conference-2011/040411ethicsconference-6230/1240815972_jozzL-L.jpg (ISU/Tony Campbell)
Indiana State University juniors Kelsie Noble and Brittany Cuthbertson review the schedule during the sixth annual Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility Conference at ISU on April 4. They were among the group of 13 students who organized the event.

Contact: Priscilla Wolfe, director of education, Networks Financial Institute, Scott College of Business, Indiana State University, 812-237-8271 or priscilla.wolfe@indstate.edu.

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or austin.arceo-negrich@indstate.edu.