you wait to teach a person ethics when they're in college, you've
waited too long.
teach a person ethics in college," said the man who this year as
a Distinguished Lecturer represents the ethical face of AAPG. "Ethics
is what you learn as a family ... before college. It's your core
who recently was named the inaugural AAPG Distinguished Lecturer
of Ethics, entertained and informed the All-Conference Luncheon
attendees in Barcelona with his observations on ethics -- specifically,
how the subject comes into play at corporate-level decision making.
ultimately is self-regulation," he said. "Imposed regulation is
law, (so) in our industry, (when) we don't self-regulate, we create
words, doing what's right is the best way to avoid being told --
or legislated -- to do what is right.
do wrong, you damage our industry," he said. "You've done us all
who is president and CEO of the Halliburton Energy Services Group,
laced his comments with humor and self-deprecation -- "There's nothing
more challenging than to talk about this (ethics) as a Halliburton
employee," he said -- but his words held a serious edge of warning
for those in the oil industry who operate in unethical ways.
have a good leader, 70 percent of the people will follow," he said,
citing tests that demonstrate people's proclivity for loyalty at
all costs -- even in the face of truth. "(Get) One leader that's
bad (unethical), and you give him a few years to get rid of the
people who disagree with him, you can ruin a company."
recent corporate black eyes (notably, the Enron debacle), Gibson
pointed out how, in many of the actual cases, the executives responsible
for the unethical decision-making were graduates of some of the
top schools in the country -- which have had ethics curriculums
alone can't make a person ethical, he said -- but ethics can be
an outgrowth of, and demonstrate itself as, responsible decision
supported his opinions with an academic foundation, describing briefly
the "basic decision sets" that people use in making decisions --
and he stressed the importance of knowing personal and corporate
"consequential" approach, in which outcomes are based on either
what's best for the decision-maker (egocentric); for others (altruistic);
or for the most number of people (utilitarian).
approach that relies on promises and individual integrity. Gibson
humorously categorized this as being for people who "feel guilty
about whatever happens, so they make it a ‘do unto others as you
have them do unto you.'
I don't like that," he quipped. "What if they're into pain?"
virtue-based approach, in which the "best people" are chosen for
jobs or in influencing the decision process. A potential problem
with this, he said, is the tendency toward nepotism.
personal tendencies for those options at decision time is a valuable
first step toward ethical behavior, he said. The next step is in
recognizing that, in any circumstance involving a company's objectives,
leaders must recognize:
you seeking a short-term or a long-term solution?
your priority truth to the facts or loyalty to the company (or
you seek justice or mercy?
your priority the group, or the individual?
decision makers know what decisions they're making," Gibson said.
"Plot yourself. Plot your company."