MENTORING TO DEVELOP ETHICAL
According to business professor Linda Treviño, ethical
behavior in organizations depends less on formal training
programs than on such management practices as
ethical leadership. Perhaps most important is creating
an environment in which employees believe people are
treated fairly. Managers can foster such an environment
by responding positively when employees raise ethical
and other concerns. They can also build ethical leadership
by rewarding ethical behavior in managers and by
placing ethical managers in positions where they can
In recent years, mentoring has become especially
critical in companies’ financial divisions. Several highprofile
scandals involving misleading financial reports
have brought greater regulation and public scrutiny,
especially aimed at the chief financial officer (CFO) and
his or her staff. Whereas CFOs were once valued primarily
for their quantitative skills, today they need a
broader range of ethical skills. In particular, they must
be role models for ethical behavior, mentoring the organization’s
other financial experts. With these greater
demands, the average length of service for a CFO is
now just 30 months.
SOURCES: Linda Treviño, “The Key Role of HR in Organizational
Ethics,” Ethics Resource Center, 2007, www.ethics.org ,
accessed March 21, 2008; and Cynthia Jamison, “Struggling
to Survive,” Strategic Finance , April 2007, downloaded from
General Reference Center Gold, http://find.galegroup.com .
1. In general, how might a senior executive mentor
junior employees in behaving ethically?
2. If you were an employee who contributed to preparing
an organization’s financial statements,
would having a CFO who places a high priority on
ethical behavior help you meet high ethical standards?
Why or why not?
3. How might an HR department help to develop financial
executives who are ethical leaders and mentors?
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