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Ethics Advocate Bill O'Rourke Speaks to CBA Students at Lied Center

Eavesdropping on business deals at the airport, accepting extravagant gifts from clients, having a co-worker display a Confederate flag in the work place – these are just a few of the ethical issues that were discussed with UNL College of Business Administration students at the fall 2012 Ethics Day Lecture given by Bill O’Rourke, former president of Alcoa-Russia and current director of the ethics program, at the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business at Duquesne University.

O’Rourke, speaking to a packed house of close to 1,800 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts, emphasized to students the importance of recognizing ethical issues they will face during their business careers.

“Many people run into situations and they aren’t even aware there are implications in the area of business ethics,” O’Rourke said. “That’s why teaching business ethics and integrating it into all of the courses is important. We have the opportunity to educate the next generation to recognize when they are faced with an ethical issue.”

Bill O'Rourke

Bill O'Rourke

O’Rourke presented a step-by-step approach to confronting unethical behavior in the work environment.

“After you recognize that you have an issue, the first item on the list is to gather the facts.”

Then O’Rourke emphasizes having a plan for discerning the available options, checking your gut, acting and reviewing the process. O’Rourke believes that failing to take action is often the biggest mistake that occurs.

“If you don’t act, that’s acting. When you have an ethical situation you really have to face up to it. Otherwise, people will perceive that you’re condoning the unethical behavior.”

“Mr. O’Rourkes’ examples and advice in seeking your ‘true north’ -- the ethical point on your moral compass -- are ones we will all remember,” said Dr. Janice Lawrence, director of the CBA business ethics program.

The business ethics presentation was presented by the College of Business Administration in partnership with State Farm Insurance, the corporate sponsor. John Christensen, representing State Farm, introduced the program, emphasizing State Farm’s commitment to ethics.
Published: September 26, 2012