This Week in PR Ethics (12/17/20): Ethical Leadership, Ethical Capitalism and Two Ethics Resources

While many people this week are celebrating Hanukkah, getting ready for Christmas or eagerly waiting for the 100th Episode of EthicalVoices on Monday….ethics issues continue unabated. This week there were a number of interesting articles on ethical leadership, GenZ and Capitalism and two great ethics resources.

  • Seven principles of ethical leadership – I really enjoyed this article from Yonason Goldson in Corporate Compliance Insights where he brings core principles to light and shows where people get uncomfortable. For those that want just the cliff notes (but I really encourage you to read the full article):
    1. Evaluate informational integrity. Protect against rational ignorance by seeking out all relevant information both supporting and opposing any position.
    2. Evaluate emotional bias. Protect against groupthink by engaging in civil discourse with those who hold opposing views.
    3. Evaluate logical consistency. Articulate your opinions so those who have not already bought into them can understand them. Rearticulate opposing views to confirm that you understand them and are able to authentically represent them. Through constructive disagreement, determine if the same reasoning supporting one side applies equally to the other.
    4. Cultivate empathy through understanding. Engage ideological adversaries on a personal basis. Learn about their backgrounds, their families, their interests and their dreams. Learn their stories, independent of their ideologies, and you will become less inclined to divide the world into “us” and “them.”
    5. Translate awareness into action. Monitor your own responses, your language and style of speech, your own behavior and ethical discipline. Solicit feedback from objective observers.
    6. Recognize that acting ethically is in your own best interest. Act in the way you would like others to act toward you. Define yourself as a force for good and strive to be a source of positive inspiration.
    7. Learn from a mentor. Seek out models of virtue in articles, books, interviews or videos – but especially face-to-face. There is no substitute for human interaction with people of quality. As Jim Rohn said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
  • GenZ and Ethical Capitalism – Harvard Business Review can always be counted on for great ethics articles. In this case, it looks at how large companies like Netflix and Twitter have begun moving cash to Black-owned banks as a sign of support for racial equity. The economic benefits to Black communities of these moves are significant, and research shows consumers in general–and young people in particular–approve of companies that join the “justice deposits” movement. It’s a sign that in order to win over younger consumers, companies need to be attuned to social issues and act appropriately.


  • Two ethics resources – I wanted to share two great, new-to-me, ethics resources that I thought might be of interest to you.
    • The effects of fake news – The Page Center shared a new training and teaching module geared to help communication professionals understand the effects of fake news
    • Test your PR ethics knowledge – Todd Van Hoosear (@vanhoosear) alerted me to this great quiz from PRSA Detroit that lets people test their ethics knowledge. While some of these are standard questions, there are a few new spins that make this fresh and worth checking out. It is a good refresher that only takes a few minutes.



Mark McClennan, APR, Fellow PRSA
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Mark W. McClennan, APR, Fellow PRSA, is the general manager of C+C's Boston office. C+C is a communications agency all about the good and purpose-driven brands. He has more than 20 years of tech and fintech agency experience, served as the 2016 National Chair of PRSA, drove the creation of the PRSA Ethics App and is the host of


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