Sunday, August 3, 2008

Letter to ECOA members re Orlando conference

Dear ECOA members,

I was very interested in attending the Orlando conference to dialogue with ethics officers, academics and others regarding Does the Law Undermine Business Ethics?

Unfortunately the ECOA has said it is not interested, and I should not bother the ECOA. See email correspondence with ECOA .

I question the legitimacy of the ECOA's lack of interest.

The ECOA said I have made thoughtful argumentation going in one direction. I asked why, then, could I not find thoughtful argumentation going in the opposite direction. I suggested some answers to the ECOA.

One possible answer I did not suggest was that there is not a basis for thoughtful argumentation going in the opposite direction. I want to keep an open mind on that and am very interested in being cited thoughtful argumentation going in the opposite direction from the argumentation I make.

I did say to the ECOA that my argumentation is not rocket science. It is based on common sense and common human knowledge and experience, and credentialed experts can understandably not be keen on having something put before them that undermines their self-image as being a specialized repository of knowledge and expertise that makes them the only qualified persons to speak intelligently related to their subject and to have worthwhile opinions. I suggested to the ECOA that could be one reason for its lack of interest.

I further suggested there is the matter of ethics officers being subject to higher up corporate masters. I said to the ECOA that the law may materially undermine the objective of corporate ethics officers to nurture and inculcate ethical conduct by the employees of corporations in exactly the way I argue, but that is venturing into a much bigger domain than ethics officers are in charge of, and those officers are not going to say or do anything except as fits within the big picture strategy and tactics of corporate management in responding to and dealing with the travesties of our nation's civil liability system (such as is being carried out by the national Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform ). (As regards that strategy and tactics, I solicited the ECOA that, if it would like more insight, I would be pleased to engage with the ECOA about it.)

After saying the foregoing to the ECOA, I did not go on to say to the ECOA that the entire corporate ethics industry may consider itself puny and wholly ineffectual should it try to take on the plaintiffs' lawyers in urging changes in the law to make the law more supportive of corporate ethics officers in trying to achieve their goals. If one is puny and thinks one will not be able to make headway in a particular direction, one can well decide not to spend time tilting at windmills.

If the ECOA is going to say it is not interested in dialoguing about Does the Law Undermine Business Ethics?, I think the ECOA owes it to itself and to its members to be honest about the reasons for its lack of interest. Thus far, I do not think the ECOA has evidenced that honesty.

As indicated above, I am interested in reading thoughtful argumentation that goes in the opposite direction from Does the Law Undermine Business Ethics? If there is not any, and the explication of the ECOA's lack of interest is as set forth in this letter, I wish to call that to the attention of corporate ethics officers and others and urge that they and the ECOA find more backbone and fortitude in trying to prosecute their mission.

I would like to dialogue about this in Orlando. I requested the ECOA to waive the conference fee for me, but the ECOA declined. In the circumstances, I told the ECOA that I did not consider it worth my expense of going to the Annual Conference, and that I would continue my efforts by email and by my blog, which I am hereby doing.

Thank you for your attention.

Robert Shattuck

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