This Week in PR Ethics (4/15/21): Listen More, Stick to Your Principles and Diversity Pays Dividends

This week in PR Ethics studies and reports came to the fore. From PRCA’s Annual Perspective, to an HBR study that shows banks with diverse boards commit less fraud, to a great study on what ethical managers should do more often -listen. There is a lot of meaty reading to dig into.

  • Banks with more women on their boards commit less fraud – Ethics and diversity is always a key topic. It is not just a moral imperative, but good business. An article in HBR reinforces this and highlights a new study that found “banks with more female directors faced lower and less-frequent fines for misconduct, saving those institutions $7.84 million a year, on average.”

    When I make the case to students, there is the common reaction – why would people be opposed? Beyond misogyny – the article points out “the transition to more diversity incurs costs, including for the search for board members and recruiting, onboarding, and less obvious things like building the relationships needed to function as a team. And when you finally have a more diverse group, there are more points of view, more negotiations, and more compromise, so decision-making takes longer.”

    While the benefits are morally right and far outweigh the costs, it is good to be prepared to understand the objections you might face.


  • Ethical managers should talk less and listen more – Two of my favorite PR researchers, Marlene Neill and Shannon Bowen have a fascinating article out in the Journal of Communication Management that found “During the onset of COVID-19 — along with accompanying layoffs and a recession — “there likely has never been a moment with such demand for ethical listening to employees.” Check it out and thanks to the Page Legacy Scholar Grant for making it possible.



  • Making ESG Metrics Trustworthy – More businesses are sharing their ESG story and embracing the triple bottom line. But the question has always been how to accurately measure and report. This article in Lexblog looks at the issue and provides some advice.
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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