The news world and blogosphere have been filled for the last couple of weeks with all of the revelations regarding Rupert Murdoch and the wild ethical transgressions by employees of News Corp. Along with these stories there have been loudly trumpeted all the valuable ethics lessons we are to have learned from this still-unfolding debacle.
So what exactly have we learned? Here, I believe, is precisely what we have learned; nothing. Really.
For all the lurid details and alarming oversteps, please tell me one new thing we have actually learned about ethics here.
Is it news that owners and executives still maintain the responsibility for the work done in their chain of command?
Is it news that tone at the top – including the top of any portion of the organization (e.g. managers and supervisors at all levels of the organization) – has a significant impact on the behavior of employees and contractors alike?
Is it news that transgressions which are ignored are likely to continue if overlooked and essentially certain to continue if rewarded?
I keep looking for even one new thing about ethics that we are to gather from all of this and I seem to keep coming up empty.
If you have gleaned something new and enlightening, I do hope you will come forward and share it.
In the meantime, sadly, all I think we may end up learning from Rupert and son is that – as has historically been the case so often – simply knowing what is right can be a startlingly poor predictor of doing what is right. (Especially when there is so very much to gain by stepping, even egregiously stepping, over the line.)