Emtrain Blog

The 2016 Rio Olympics: A Great Sporting Event and an Ethical Mess

Posted by Chris MacDonald

August 26, 2016

The following post was written by our expert contributor, Professor Chris MacDonald and originally appeared in the Canadian Business magazine. Professor MacDonald is a contributor to our Code of Conduct and Ethics training course.


So, the 2016 Olympics are over. And while the Olympics always seem to serve up their share of controversy, this year’s event in Rio seems to have had more than the usual quantum of troubles. In fact, the Rio Olympics featured enough scandals and ethical dilemmas to keep a university Moral Issues course going for two full semesters.

The ethical issues at Rio began, of course, long before the Olympics did. To start, there was the controversy over holding a multi-billion dollar event in an underdeveloped country in the midst of political turmoil. And as the games approached, serious concerns were raised about the lack of essential infrastructure, not to mention lack of plausible assurances about safety and security.

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Topics: Ethics

UC Chancellor’s Last Stand Is Yet Another Conflict of Interest

Posted by Janine Yancey

May 12, 2016

Whether right or wrong, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi has been riddled with conflicts of interest: a board seat at a competing institution, using university funds to manipulate how information about Katehi and the infamous University pepper spray incident appears on the web, significant salary increases to her family members on university payroll, and more.

Most of these potential conflicts could have been easily avoided had Katehi used a simple ethics rule, which I like to call the Ricky Ricardo rule.

The Ricky Ricardo Rule: If you’re doing a lot of ’splainin’, you’re in a problematic situation.

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Topics: Compliance, Business Compliance, Code of Conduct, Ethics

3 Smart Ways to Safeguard Your Company from an Ethics Scandal

Posted by Allison Baker

May 3, 2016


A few years ago, Elizabeth Holmes’ company Theranos made headlines for its promise to disrupt biotechnology with innovative blood testing. Now, Theranos is making headlines for allegedly fooling investors, consumers, and the media that they had a viable product.

In addition to media scrutiny, Theranos and Holmes are currently under investigation by the SEC and DOJ. So, what happened here and how can we learn to build a company that doesn’t run into ethical and legal scrutiny after years of hard work?

Keep reading to find out how to build an ethical and compliant company from the start and avoid an ethics scandal.

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Topics: Compliance, Business Compliance, Code of Conduct, Ethics, Corporate Governance, onboarding, Silicon Valley

Why the SEC is Keeping an Eye on Silicon Valley Unicorns

Posted by Janine Yancey

April 28, 2016

In the late 1990s, there was massive investor confidence in companies with little or no earnings, no profits, short track records, and sometimes, no product. As a result, company valuations skyrocketed and a small percentage of people made millions.

Inevitably, the wind started to blow in the other direction and companies were directed to get cash flow positive quickly. That’s when fantasy company valuations plummeted and both employees and investors were left with little to show for their investment of time and money.

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Topics: Compliance, Business Compliance, Code of Conduct, Ethics, ethical workplace culture, Silicon Valley

Business Ethics: Could the FBI Really Force Apple Engineers to Break Encryption?

Posted by Chris MacDonald

April 4, 2016

The following post was written by our expert contributor, Professor Chris MacDonald and originally appeared on his site, The Business Ethics Blog. Professor MacDonald is a contributor to our Code of Conduct and Ethics training course.


News surfaced recently that, in the event that the FBI is successful in getting a court to compel Apple to unlock an iPhone, the company’s engineers might simply not do the work.

In addition to raising interesting practical questions (still hypothetical at this point) for the FBI, this turn raises interesting ethical questions about forced labor. It’s easy enough in the abstract to accept the idea of a court forcing a corporation — a lifeless thing — to do something. But it’s somewhat more difficult to stomach the idea of a court order compelling a number of human individuals to do work over a period of weeks.

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Topics: Business Compliance, Ethics

How Design Can Help Companies Make Better Ethical Choices

Posted by Chris MacDonald

December 29, 2015

The following post was written by our expert contributor, Professor Chris MacDonald and originally appeared on his site, The Business Ethics Blog. Professor MacDonald is a contributor to our Code of Conduct and Ethics training course.


What does it take to design an ethical plan of action? What would you do if you were head of compliance at Volkswagen, or SNC Lavalin?

The question arose recently, as I spent a weekend as a speaker and judge at the terrific Ethics in Action case competition, held at Dalhousie University’s Rowe School of Business.

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Topics: Business Compliance, Ethics

9 Free Ethics & Compliance Videos to Share with Your Team

Posted by Janine Yancey

November 10, 2015

Video training tools are a hot item in the compliance world. I spoke with several compliance officers and CCOs across multiple industries and they all want the same thing: short video lessons that can be easily viewed and distributed.

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Topics: HR, Compliance, Insider Trading, Code of Conduct, Ethics

How Bad Management Leads to Bad Ethics

Posted by Chris MacDonald

November 3, 2015

The following post was written by our expert contributor, Professor Chris MacDonald and originally appeared on his site, The Business Ethics Blog. Professor MacDonald is a contributor to our Code of Conduct and Ethics training course.


What’s the connection between ethics and competence in business? What part was played in Volkswagen’s wrongdoing by the fact that the company’s engineers were apparently technically incapable of making good on the promises their marketing department was apparently intent on making?

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Topics: Business Compliance, Ethics

If You Think You Can’t be Ethically Compromised at Work, You’re Wrong

Posted by Chris MacDonald

October 1, 2015

The following post was written by our expert contributor, Professor Chris MacDonald and originally appeared on his site, The Business Ethics Blog. Professor MacDonald is a contributor to our Code of Conduct and Ethics training course.


It’s a bad week for corporate bosses. Volkswagen CEO, Martin Winterkorn, resigned this week in light of revelations that the car maker had, on his watch, falsified emissions tests on what may turn out to be millions of diesel VWs.

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Topics: Business Compliance, Ethics

Business Ethics: 4 Lessons to Learn from Cecil the Lion

Posted by Chris MacDonald

August 6, 2015

The following post was written by our expert contributor, Professor Chris MacDonald and originally appeared on his site, The Business Ethics Blog. Professor MacDonald is a contributor to our Code of Conduct and Ethics training course.


As of this week, Walter J. Palmer of Minnesota, is pretty much obviously the worlds least-popular dentist. Palmer recently shot — as part of what he says he thought was a legal big-game hunt — a lion whose home was a protected national park in Zimbabwe.

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Topics: Business Compliance, Ethics