Ethics by design:
How to Use Nudges, Norms and Laws to Improve Business Ethics


In June 2016, Ethical Systems organised the first Ethics By Design conference in New York University Stern School of Business. This unique event brought together prominent thinkers and leaders to meet, share and exchange research, resources and relatable strategies around strengthening the ethical climate and culture of today’s business world.

The conference explored these key questions:

  • How can ethical systems design make companies more profitable, productive and positive?
  • What are the key misconceptions around managing ethics?
  • How can we better align behaviors with their long-term ethical goals?

Full summary of the conference can be found on Ethical Systems website. Here are videos of some of the sessions:

Introduction to Ethical Systems

How can ethical systems design make companies more profitable, productive and positive? Jonathan Haidt (New York University Stern School of Business) opens Ethics By Design discussing the mission of Ethical Systems and the central advantages of ethical systems design for businesses today.

Four Myths about Morality & Business

Author and professor Nick Epley (University of Chicago Booth School of Business) delivers an opening keynote describing four misconceptions that often misdirect organizations around managing ethics. Understanding and demystifying these areas will help organizations better align behaviors with their long-term ethical goals.

 Ethical Culture: Defined and measured

What does it mean to have an ethical culture in your organization? How can companies accurately evaluate whether they have an ethical culture – and what metrics and measurements can facilitate this process? “Ethical Culture: Defined and measured” is a conversation between academic and business leaders that will define the benefits of an ethical culture and how companies differ in their approach, tools and analysis to tackle this challenging issue.

Beyond Carrots and Sticks: Encouraging a speak up culture

A speak up culture is one in which employees are able to freely express concerns about company activities and policies, without fear of retribution. A speak up culture can only be achieved with buy-in at all levels and a clear understanding of the role of ethics versus compliance as a motivator for conduct. This plenary is designed to spotlight the best ways to instill a speak up culture in organizations today, based on behavioral science research, data and knowledge around internal reporting / whistleblowing and human behavior.


Walking the Tightrope: Balancing incentives to perform vs. incentives to cheat 

Goal setting can motivate employee behavior, but also has the potential to induce ethical misconduct, despite their ubiquity at all levels in business today. The final plenary explores the research relating to the downside of goal setting, and the challenges faced by compensation committees and others when integrating ethics into performance and financial incentives. Learn how a shift in perspective and strategy around goals can engender better performance from teams and greater long-term alignment for the organization.

The Future of Business Ethics

Research builds on knowledge and lessons from the past to create plans for the future. Our closing session will showcase the next steps in the ethics industry, charting ethical pathways for companies as well as the organizations set up to support and service them. See why short-term thinking is on the way out and the many reasons why trust, integrity and taking a stakeholder perspective are the way forward.

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