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Forum targets business ethics
April 24, 2003
California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) students hear from Salinas-area experts

Colleen Mullery, Ph.D.
School of Business, CSUMB
James F. Bracher
Founder of the Bracher Center for Integrity in Leadership

SEASIDE - A panel of area business leaders batted around issues of ethics in business Thursday during a public forum at California State University, Monterey Bay.

It was the first of what may become an annual public forum on business ethics and corporate-social responsibility. The panel served up a lively discussion for an audience made up largely of CSUMB business students.

At the heart of the discussion was how to hold companies and individuals to high standards of ethics and how to proceed when real-life circumstances blur the lines of ethical behavior.

Colleen Mullery, a CSUMB professor and director of the school's entrepreneurship program, moderated a panel that consisted of Jim Bracher, founder of the Bracher Center for Integrity in Leadership; Myra Goodman, who along with her husband, Drew, found and run the Carmel Valley-based organic grower Earthbound Farms; Susan Merfeld, Vice President of human resources for Pebble Beach Co.; and Bill Barton, Chief Financial Officer for Watsonville-based Granite Construction.

Bracher recalled the words of an 88-year-old mentor. Years ago the mentor said there are two things that are most important: The first is that there is nothing more important than the truth. The second one the mentor couldn't remember.

Goodman said companies need to take a long-term view. Earthbound Farms supports about 100 nonprofit events and organizations. "What goes around comes around," Goodmand said.

Mullery challenged the panel to share experiences of personal or corporate ethical dilemmas.

Merfeld recalled a senior executive being fired for violating Pebble Beach Co.'s code of conduct. The executive was turned in by a lower-level employee for an after-hours drinking incident.

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