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Prominent Business Ethics Expert Engages School’s Freshmen in FIRST Step Lecture

October 27, 2008
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Freshmen in the School’s new FIRST Step course had the opportunity in October to hear from Bowen H. "Buzz" McCoy, a long-time leader, thinker and author in business ethics. The course, an acronym for Freshman Integrity, Responsibility and Success through Teamwork, aims to expose students to business ethical principles, teamwork and the challenges that organizations face in the twenty-first century.

McCoy, a former partner at Morgan Stanley who ran the firm's worldwide real estate finance and investment business for 13 years, spoke to students about the Parable of the Sadhu, an article he published in the Harvard Business Review analyzing the differences between corporate and individual ethics.

McCoy authored the article after encountering a dying pilgrim on a climbing trip in the Himalayas. When several groups of travelers were unwilling to inconvenience themselves to save the sadhu, McCoy began to wonder about the morality involved in decision making and how this impacts the business arena.

"The decisions you make may carry more magnitude than you think they do," he told the School’s freshmen.
McCoy engaged in a conversation with students, getting their input on factors influencing the ethical situation facing the climbers and the sadhu, and discussing how such moral dilemmas carry over to professional life.

"If I'm conducting bond business with a trader who has as much experience as I have, can I deal with him the same way I would someone's mother?" he asked.

McCoy also talked about other ethical problems in the workplace including disobeying bad rules, whistle blowing, and the differences between negotiating and lying and networking and spying.

McCoy was welcomed as part of the Adrienne Arsht Distinguished Speaker Series in Ethics, one of several university-wide interdisciplinary initiatives supported by Adrienne Arsht who has funded the UM Ethics Program in the past and whose recent donation equals the largest gift supporting ethics programs in the State of Florida. 
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