If you go
The KU School of Business’ Walter S. Sutton Ethics Lecture is free and open to the public.
WHO: Kathleen Edmond, chief ethics officer for Best Buy, will present “Ethical Decision Making in a Transparent World.”
TIME: 7 p.m.
WHERE: Woodruff Auditorium, Kansas Union.
An upcoming speaker at Kansas University is used to tough situations.
Kathleen Edmond, chief ethics officer at Best Buy, doesn’t handle the clear-cut or simple issues. She is set to deliver the KU School of Business’ 2010 Walter S. Sutton Ethics Lecture on Wednesday.
Most companies have a compliance department, but Edmond said about 10 to 15 percent have separated out an ethics position to work on trickier issues.
“My job gets into more of the gray areas,” she said.
She tackles issues like when a gift from a vendor becomes inappropriate and the proper ways to enforce company policies.
For example, Edmond talked about a company policy prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving — the company could monitor company cell phone use by using GPS devices already on the phones to determine whether any of the phones were in use when traveling more than 10 mph.
“Just because we can, should we?” she said.
The job often becomes more about raising questions than finding the perfect answers.
In the phone instance, Best Buy decided on a public information campaign talking about the dangers of driving while using a cell phone, and asked employees to follow suit.
She operates a blog to promote more transparency in her work — recent posts have focused on individual cases where individuals have been terminated and then appealed that decision. Their names were removed before posting.
In a world where information is increasingly available, Edmond has taken an active role in disseminating it. She pointed to a case where an e-mail sent to many employees from a company executive detailing an ongoing investigation was posted online in its entirety four hours later.
“Every time I write an e-mail, I write it as if it’s going to be in the outside world in four minutes,” she said.
Edmond said she hoped to encourage students to be flexible both in their career and in what they think is “the right thing” to do.
“The more and more we can be the kind of person we want to interact with, the better off we’re going to be,” Edmond said.