Voices of our Nation

Critics of Peer Review Ask How ‘Race Science’ Still Manages to Slip Through

Two scientific papers in South Africa have raised questions among critics about the quality — and potential biases — of international peer review.

July 22, 2019 by Sarah Wild

As soon as Barbara Boswell began reading the journal article, the associate professor of English at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa says she was surprised about the language it used. Even the title and the abstract set alarm bells ringing, she recalled. “As I read further, I saw more problems.”

The controversial paper, “Age- and education-related effects on cognitive functioning in Colored South African women,” was published in March in the journal Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition following peer review. The authors, from South Africa’s Stellenbosch University, claimed to show “low cognitive functioning” in this group, which they attributed to low education levels and risky lifestyles. (In South Africa, “colored” is one of the four officially recognized racial categories — a relic of the apartheid system — along with white, Indian/Asian, and black African.)

In April, Boswell spearheaded a petition for the journal to issue a retraction. “The article is published as scientific research but draws on colonial stereotypes of African women, and ‘colored’ South African women specifically, as intellectually deficient,” Boswell and her co-authors wrote. “The article relies on flawed methodology and science, perpetuating harmful, racist stereotypes.”

More than 10,000 people, including scholars and ordinary citizens, signed the petition, which was ultimately successful: The journal retracted the paper on May 2. But this wasn’t the only recent scientific article in South Africa to face fierce criticism on its methodology and treatment of race. A second paper, also published in March in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics, claimed to show that inhabitants of countries with lower IQs were more likely to be sold as slaves between the 15th and 20th centuries. Following an outcry, the co-author resigned from his position as an adjunct professor at the UCT.

Together, the papers raise questions regarding how such research made it through peer review, a process in which academics validate studies prior to publication. Peer review is considered by many researchers and academics to be the best quality-check for scholarship, but others point out that it can be flawed, opaque, and susceptible to bias.

Both papers were subjected to reviewers in internationally-published journals despite appearing to dabble in race science, which regards race not as cultural construct, but as a biological variable that can be used to make allegedly scientific conclusions about groups of people. Many experts consider biological notions of race to be largely debunked, making the appearance of such research in the global literature, where it can then be used to undermine the rights and dignity of entire communities, particularly problematic. “Scientific racism was used to justify racist policies like apartheid,” says Boswell. “It was used to make an argument about the inferiority of black people, indigenous people, and why they needed stewardship because they were not fully capable of looking after themselves and the land.”

The two papers show “how shoddy peer review can be at times,” says Agustín Fuentes, an anthropologist at the University of Notre Dame. “The ideal is good — great, in fact — but it does not always work out. I think that there are also a lot of biases about race and gender in the academy in general. And in too many cases those biases go unchallenged and result in things like these getting in to print.”

It has been 25 years since the end of South Africa’s apartheid government, which separated people based on race and often relied on flawed race science as justification, and the country still struggles with racial tension and systemic divisions that drive inequality. The academic system reflects these realties: White researchers still occupy half of all university posts despite accounting for just 8 percent of the population, and they publish about two-thirds of academic research.

Stellenbosch University, for instance, was mainly reserved for white students and staff under the Afrikaans-speaking apartheid government. The school has been attempting to address its racist past and transform its university body by increasing scholarships to previously disadvantaged racial groups, hiring more diverse staff, and switching from Afrikaans to English as the main medium of instruction. Eugene Cloete, the vice-rector for research, innovation, and postgraduate studies at Stellenbosch, says that the paper on colored women has set the university “back years.”

Cloete suspects there might be other published articles from the university with racist assumptions, and he is personally reviewing thousands of ongoing projects for racial insensitivity. Still, he says, some blame should lie with the journals. The paper “was published in an international, peer-reviewed journal,” he says. “We publish 1,800 papers a year here through thousands of different journals. We have to rely on peer review.”

Cloete and Boswell, along with other researchers, argue that peer review should have caught what they say is flawed research in the Stellenbosch study. The study’s authors, a team of sports scientists, assessed self-identified colored women from a township in the Western Cape. The sample size was limited, with just 60 women, but they extrapolated the results to apply to millions of people. The researchers also made assumptions about the group, identifying it as racially homogenous when it was actually diverse. And, based on a measure of cognitive ability that has been shown to be inapplicable to South African populations, the researchers made sweeping claims about the poor cognitive abilities of colored women in general.

“The study is based on ideological assumptions that are deeply rooted in a racialized and racist history,” says Garth Stevens, president-elect of the Psychological Society of South Africa. “Those assumptions are overlaid with a set of scientific methods that are themselves fatally flawed.” As a result, the generalizations about a particular population group “become spurious and a real indicator of poor science.”

Corresponding author on the paper, sports scientist Elmarie Terblanche, said she was not allowed to comment as the matter was under investigation.

The academic publisher, Taylor & Francis Group, confirmed that the article was peer-reviewed, but that editors retracted it after Boswell’s petition took off. When Undark asked the organization for comment, press coordinator Saskia Kovandzich said “I’m afraid that nobody is available to discuss this issue with you.”

While the Stellenbosch article was retracted, the one on slavery and IQ was not. That article, “Intelligence and Slave Exports from Africa,” was published by a team of economists in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics by Sage Publishing on March 28. The team claims to show that African countries where people have higher IQs experienced lower levels of slave exports than countries which had lower “cognitive ability.”

The lead author, economist Simplice Asongu, listed UCT as his institution on the paper, but he was an adjunct professor rather than a full staff member, says Elijah Moholola, a university spokesperson. And the university doesn’t stand behind the findings, Moholola adds: “UCT rejects the assumptions of the paper and this line of research as bad science.” Asongu has since resigned.

Sage did not respond to an interview request.

Like the Stellenbosch study, the methodology of the UCT paper came under scientific scrutiny. The paper claims to prove that countries with higher average IQs saw fewer inhabitants sold into slavery because they were smarter and thus better able to escape, confront enslavers, and organize resistance.

Asongu and his co-author, Oasis Kodila-Tedika, an economist at the University of Kinshasa, show this through linking, among other variables, countries’ IQ; their capacity for technology adaptation, inferred from previous research; the landscape’s ruggedness; and historical population density.

The authors assume most types of intelligence can be captured through IQ tests. But the idea that it is possible to determine the cognitive ability of entire countries is problematic, says Adam Haupt, a professor in media studies, who specializes in race discourse. He points out that there is plenty of research showing IQ tests can be inaccurate and unfair. “There’s a cultural and ideological bias embedded in those tests,” Haupt says. “Science is seen as non-ideological, but we know that’s not true.”

When Undark contacted Asongu for comment, he said he wouldn’t discuss the matter through non-scientific media, adding: “Anybody questioning the robustness of the findings should have his or her comments peer-reviewed and published in a scientific medium, then I will also respond through the same scientific medium or other scientific media.”

But peer review is part of the problem. “If it was a predatory journal” — a journal which charges researchers to publish, but doesn’t offer rigorous services such as peer review — “then you’d understand it,” says Haupt. But “Sage is a reputable publisher. It has you asking questions about their peer review process. All of the supposed safeguards fell flat. Why did editors not ask how sound was this methodological approach? How much do we know about IQ?”

It remains unclear why, exactly, the papers from Stellenbosch and UCT made it through peer review. “A charitable interpretation would be laziness and genuine oversight on the part of the reviewers,” says Angela Saini, a science journalist and author of “Superior: The Return of Race Science,” a new book on the resurgence of race science since it fell out of favor following World War II.

“A less charitable one is that they let this through because they share with the authors some commitment to the idea of biological race — an idea long ago discredited by mainstream scientists,” she adds. “Either way, the system must be flawed in some way or this wouldn’t have happened.”

Regardless of the reason why, it’s common for faulty papers to slip through peer review, says Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch, a watchdog publication for scientific publishing. “There are 1,400 retractions per year, and there are others that should be retracted but aren’t,” he says. “Peer review is a porous system.”

Recent reports reveal that system is under pressure. A 2016 study in PlosOne, looking at biomedical research, found that the responsibility for peer review is concentrated in the hands of a few reviewers. At the same time, the volume of scholarship requiring peer review continues to increase at about 3 to 3.5 percent each year. And there is also bias when it comes to who gets to be a peer reviewer. In its Global State of Peer Review 2018 report, for instance, the peer-review tracking website Publons found that established regions review more than emerging regions; in fact, there was not an African country in the top 20 nations that supplied reviews. And an investigation into gender and international diversity at the biosciences journal eLife found that an all-male review team was more likely to accept papers with male authors, and gatekeepers were also more likely to accept papers whose authors were from the same country as them.

“Humans are fallible and peer review has subjective aspects to it,” explains Cassidy Sugimoto, a professor of informatics at Indiana University, Bloomington and a co-author on the paper.

Part of that subjectivity comes from personal worldviews, but it also encompasses the scholarship reviewers and researchers are exposed to. Editors tend to choose reviewers who have read the same body of literature, Sugimoto adds, and may be oblivious to valid work disproving their viewpoint. In the case of race, there is plenty of well-established scholarship, she says, but mostly in fields that are unfamiliar to researchers and reviewers.

“A number of disciplines outside of the humanities need to engage across those boundaries to think critically about what they do as researchers,” says Haupt. “What does it mean to be a scientist in a world that is trying to undo colonialism, systemic racism, sexism? How do you undo the systemic racism, sexism?”

“You need to interrogate your position and the history of your scholarship,” he adds.

Still, there are moves to change the system. One way is to have a more diverse pool of reviewers, Sugimoto says. Another is to have partially open peer review, where reviewers and authors know one another’s identity and their comments are public.

“If peer review is the mechanism to determine validity of work, open peer review would be accountability and transparency,” Sugimoto says, although she adds that this could spark other problems, such as junior reviewers damaging their careers by openly challenging a senior academic. One way to avoid this would be to make only the reviews, rather than the reviewers’ identities, public.

These fixes, perhaps, could have halted the publication of the papers about colored women or countries that experienced slavery. “I’m sure there are lots of pieces of research like this,” says Boswell.

Such work “doesn’t come out of nowhere,” she adds. “This comes out of a context.”

Sarah Wild is a freelance science journalist based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This article was originally published on Undark. Read the original article.

This article is under Undark’s copyright and does not qualify for the Creative Commons license J2DW normally uses.


Ethics, organisational culture and behaviours

I. Introduction

One of the big issues in ethics is the basic problem of how to create an ethical culture within

an organisation i.e. how culture shapes organisational behaviour. We have heard a lot about

how culture influences organisation by driving organisational behaviour. It is true that the

workforce is becoming more of a knowledge workforce and they are now not treated as being

“naturally lazy” or can only be motivated by money (suggested as Taylor theory – one of the

neoclassical management theories). Hence, excessive controls or rules might not be as

efficient as it used to be to curb employees’ behaviours. Culture then becomes a modern way

to manipulate organisational behaviours. It is obvious that, people might be reluctant to rules

because they have their own judgements. Moreover, the reverse psychology problem is so

common that when something becomes rule, people would try to figure out a way to get

away with it. Therefore, culture is then a perfect solution of diverting behaviour by the norm

without forcing anyone to obey it. This essay will analyse different approaches in the issue of

aligning ethics to culture so as to accelerate ethical behaviours.

II. The relationship between culture and ethics

Anand, Ashford and Joshi’s paper (2004) by analysing the most well-known corruption

scandals (Enron, Worldcom, etc.) has figured out their common features which are partly

created by rationalisation tactics and socialisation tactics. This means that rationalisation

allows people to justify their corruption and if this is collective used, new employees would

be affected accordingly and commit unethical acts (Appendix 1). Thus, culture considering as

the act of the norm cannot be ignored within an organisation as it drives ethical behaviours.

With the help of a euphemistic language, social cocoon and group attractiveness, the

rationalisation tactics and socialisation process become more intertwiningly facilitated, which

in turns leads to organisational corruption (Appendix 1). Ethical behaviour among employees

ensures that employees complete work with honesty and integrity. This is where the “magic”

happens after the tone of the top (particularly in ethics) has been passed down. The power

of the norm plays an important role in diverting behaviour because acting to what most of

other people do satisfies individual social needs. However, ethics can guide behaviours by the

code of ethics or policies and rules (which align the organisational goals). Having said that,

those rules should only establish a guidance or framework which help people make ethical

decisions. Furthermore, sometimes being ethical is actually self-harm. The clear example is

that most whistle-blowers after reporting wrongdoings because the feel it is ethical to do so,

are shamed against, got redundant, etc. all sort of bad consequences. Then, the norm power

is now actually more harmful and it acts as the “bad side of the blade”.

On the other hand, Anderson and Englebardt (2007) have explained this relationship by

various ways. They started by arguing that organisation involves a commitment of

relationship with a common identity of membership. Hence, the culture if formed by

communication and structures, which make culture greater than the definition of the norm.

Indeed, “Culture involves major systems of ideology and practice that constitute the

conditions of our daily affairs” (Anderson and Englebardt, 2007), which is more than just

shared values. This requires organisations to establish the right membership identity and

framework of action that is culturally embedded. Therefore, culture would relate to ethics in

terms of the “interrelationships between the true and the good – between the knowledge

that justifies and the values that qualify” (Anderson and Englebardt, 2007).

Militaru and Zanfir (2012) also shows the influence of organisational culture on ethical

principles internationally. In fact, organisational culture and ethical behaviour are

interdependent and this provides firms a competitive advantage in the long term. Hence,

once the culture is embedded, it is difficult to implement as it represents collective perception

of all individuals to the business values, morals and beliefs (Militaru and Zanfir, 2012). Thus,

“the economical performances of every company are influenced, sooner or later, by the

manner of applying business ethics” (Militaru and Zanfir, 2012).

Some researches have studied this relationship empirically. Valentine and Barnett (2003)

concluded that ethics code awareness and organisational commitment (as components of

organisational culture) are driven by perception; an ethics code awareness existing within a

company suggests higher ethical values and higher level of organisational commitment. Bejou,

Ennew and Palmer (1998) reveal a more particular relationship in the financial services sector

that customer perceive their satisfaction on many factors and ethics is one of them. According

to the authors, ethics directly affects satisfaction via the relationship quality but it also

influences satisfaction indirectly via trust factor along with customer orientation, expertise

and sale orientation. Obviously, ethics contributing to satisfactory customer relationships

assists enhancing organisational performance. Another similar study assessing employee

satisfaction (Koh and Boo, 2004), “indicates significant and positive links between ethical

culture constructs (i.e. top management support for ethical behaviour and the association

between ethical behaviour and career success within the organisation) and job satisfaction”.

Therefore, management is suggested to encourage organisational ethics to manipulate

organisational outcomes.

III. The problems of creating an ethical culture

Defining ethical behaviour

According to Business Dictionary, having ethical behaviour means “acting in ways consistent

with what society and individuals typically think are good values”. If we are considering the

culture environment in an individual society, following the norm does not necessarily mean

the act is ethical. Moreover, it also depends on individual perceptions as well. One person’s

ethical values are not the same as others. In addition, the ethical values of the norm changes

through time. For examples, Hilary Clinton used to be an anti-LGBT leader but when she ran

for the president, she actually changed and supported it just to allegedly adapt to the norm.

Therefore, it’s important to set the right culture to reflect what is truly ethical internally and

externally to the wider society. Since “the ethical philosophy an organisation uses to conduct

business can affect the reputation, productivity and bottom line of the business” (Kelchener,

n.d.), organisations have to constantly tailor and implement their ethical frameworks to align

with the demand of the society’s ethical necessities.

As the businesses are now more socially oriented rather than economically responsible,

culture seems to become the key in driving collective mind-set of individuals. Hence, Militaru

and Zanfir (2012) has argued that culture has to be managed by considering different level of

collective “mental programming” to drive behaviour at individual, collective and universal

level. Moreover, morality is also included in the definition of organisational culture. Internally,

what morally drives the perception of an ethical culture could be the board, company’s values

and history; or external factors such as national culture, technical, juridical or economic

factors could have impacted culture accordingly (Militaru and Zanfir, 2012). Lozano (1998)

explained the critical relationship of ethics and corporate cultures that this link is exposed

from 2 perspectives: corporate culture is part of the factors institutionalising ethics and

corporate culture is the base of forming corporate ethics. This is said to cause many

confusions in creating a corporate culture, since companies have to approach things

differently depending on which side of those perspectives they perceive. For example,

organisations deciding on their processes have to deal with the core cultural identity values

(difficult to change) or with expressions of culture (easy to change) (Lozano, 1998). Only when

companies are able to understand this, the definition and the execution of a corporate culture

could be emerged within an organisation.

Therefore, the relationship between ethics and culture seems to be Intricate due to different

paradigms being perceived. “The concept needs to be defined broadly enough to include

basic elements for a comprehensive definition, and it must be defined distinctly enough to

facilitate the examination of the concept” (Smith and Hume, 2005), especially for

organisations when they try to create or implement their culture.

Trust is everything

The mechanism of ethics and culture is interrelated with some factors such as the economic

and politic system (Anderson and Englebardt, 2007). It is a fact that trust in the economy is

fierce because it involves resources allocation (i.e. values determining). The reason is that

trusts help justifying for action and acts as the invisible hands so that the market goes back

to equilibrium from time to time. Culture maybe embedded in the economy that it entails

obligation and, and obligation entails morality (Anderson and Englebardt, 2007); However,

the reality is more complicated as multiple market economies are having obligations which

compete or contradicting. More importantly, the social system is the one which creates trusts.

Recently due to many events, the people seem to loose trust from the social system from

many huge political events such as the Scotland referendum, the Brexit, Donald Trump got

elected, etc. As Sir Bischoff (2016), the chairman of the financial reporting council, has said

that something must be done to restore trust and building confidence in business and

corporate sector in order to enhance economic development. Indeed, without trust, the

ethical values become more unstable than ever. For example, supporting Trump does not

mean that one person is unethical. However, most of his sayings are unethical from being

very racist to unreasonable (asking Mexico paying for the Wall); it is hard not to associate

Trump supporters with supporting unethical behaviours. The attention brings to the point

that the whole America is being divided just because of the ethical values associated with


It is stated by Kimmel (2015) that trust is more superior than compliance and ethics because

compliance requires enforcement, whereas, ethics and trusts are voluntary. Also, ethics is a

subset of trusts and being ethical does not guarantee trustworthiness. Hence, many papers

have claimed that “trust is essential for understanding interpersonal and group behaviour,

managerial effectiveness, economic exchange and social or political stability” (Hosmer, 1995).

In particular, trust within an organisation is proved to influence the association between

ethical environment and employee engagement (Hough, Green and Plumlee, 2016). In other

words, employee’ perception of an organisation’s ethics influences their behaviours in

engaging more in their work because they are more likely trust the organisation. Trust is such

an important factor in driving ethical culture; however, it is a personal choice. Hence, there

exists a challenge of how to making people place trust in the organisation in terms of ethics.

Without trust, the rationalisation of norm towards ethical behaviour would be non-existent.

In addition, the code of ethics might not be powerful enough to drive ethical behaviour

because the employees do not trust the organisation. Newer generations facing threat of

redundancy from financial crisis or technology advancement do not trust the organisations as

much as the previous generation did that they expected to stay with a company and work

there for the rest of their lives. Therefore, the degree of trust and loyalty to an organisation

has changed and it is a challenge for managers to figure out a way to gain trust so that it drives

ethical behaviours. As Brien (1998) has stated that “the culture is one that seeks to promote

trust in the profession and trust worthiness as a virtue exemplified in each individual”; thus

culture of trust would lead to ethical behaviours “at first by the hand, then through the heart”.

Culture Matters More than Codes

Militaru and Zanfir (2012) stated that “culture of ethical rules to meet up society’s expectation

but it does not provide instant benefits to firms”. It is true that corporate culture is proven to

gives companies with better competitive advantages and, eventually, superior profitability.

Nonetheless, those are long term so, with the short-termism concern of the management to

manage expectation, the culture might be neglected. Besides, in the long term, all companies

will be having what they called “corporate culture”, which does not make having a culture

unique as a competitive advantage anymore. Hence, this threatens the recognition of the

invisible benefits bringing by culture, or ethical culture in particular. Lozano (1998) referred

to this issue by a simple question “Do organizations have a culture or are they a culture?”.

Obviously, thinking organisation itself as a culture is better helping firms focus more on the

culture side of it without imposing culture as the sake of having it.

The pressure of having an ethical culture might be there but organisations focus too little on

how to manage it. Obviously, promoting an ethical culture just for the sake of having it

without enforcement will not work and it does not contribute anything to the organisation at

all. It would be a continuous process of understanding, improving, sustaining the ethical

behaviours. Specifically, implementation has to reflect what is perceived as general principles

and values of an organisation. The code of ethics or policies could be useful tool in shaping

culture as they established a baseline of what should be done and what should not. To

continuously improve and sustain this, it is essential to notice the effects of business

environment to ethics up to standards. Organisation also need to educate people and rewards

people to encourage ethical behaviours so that they can benefit the most from an ethical


Statistics from LRN (Marketwired, 2017) reported that management is trying to foster ethics

and compliance but it is just for the purpose of ticking the checklists. Specifically, 90% of chief

ethics & compliance officers agreed that their middle managers are able to communicate the

code and 70% ethics officers holds leaders accountable for their ethical behaviour.

Nevertheless, not many managers are aware of their responsibility of implementing or

actively supporting the code. Evidently, “too many companies don’t do anything with the

documents; they simply paste them on the wall to impress employees, customers, suppliers,

and the public” (Donaldson, 1996).

Enron is one of the great example in illustrating that “business ethics is a question of

organizational “deep” culture rather than of cultural artifacts like ethics codes, ethics officers

and the like” (Sims and Brinkmann, 2003). From a company with the status of being economic

and ethical, Enron’s collapse emphasises the intrinsic value between words and deeds. All of

those established code and procedures did not shed a line on the true culture of the company

where it is so competitive that employees were pushed to stretch the rules further and

further until the limits of ethical conduct are easily overlooked in the pursuit of the next big

success” (Sims and Brinkmann, 2003). The competitive culture creates pressures on earning

expectation over the boundary of what is ethically acceptable, while their ethical policies

were left in negligence.

Cultural conflicts

Culture does not stop at individual or group level; it could be extended to a larger paradigm

such as national level. It is obvious that, if culture means what people do things around here,

different countries may impose different ethical standards, values, conduct and culture. For

examples, many acquisitions made my Canadian banks in the US failed because of the ethical

culture of the banking industry in both countries. Canadian banks obey the “know your

customer rules” when accepting but US banks focus more on building customer base by their

network (asking a university friend to make a loan). Hence, it might be unethical in Canada to

bypass some of the “know your customer” criteria but it is how they do retail banking in the

US. Furthermore, the specific culture embedded in a country could be potentially affecting

business culture. As illustrated in Appendix 2 by Alas (2006), in a culture with undesired

practices, more undesired practices lead to higher need for ethical values and vice versa.

“People feel that they need some kind of regulation mechanism in an aggressive society, a

mechanism with strong interest groups and a strong hierarchy” (Alas, 2006). Reversely, a

culture full of desired practices where ethical values are well established, the need for ethics

is not as high. Thus, different ethical values across countries or subcultures creates cultural

conflicts, especially for multinational companies.

It is stated that organisational values would be more visible and effective if “values are

selected by leadership to make sure everyone understands what the organization stands for,

including ethical behaviour and social responsibility” (Ferrell and Ferrell, 2011). Another

example could be that the CFA institute established their professional code and ethical

standards as a principles based so that when they got into an ethical culture conflict situation,

the standards would guide them to solve the dilemma. For instance, if a CFA member lives in

a country with no security law and does business in a country with less strict law than the CFA

standards; he must adhere to the CFA standards (CFA institute, 2016). Davidson (1996) also

argued that many managers came working overseas then returned shortly after due to the

culture conflict of development and conflict of tradition. This is when the concept of the

“moral free space” emerges (good activity might be considered bad in other culture).

Therefore, it is suggested that “codes of conduct must be explicit to be useful, but they must

also leave room for a manager to use his or her judgment in situations requiring cultural

sensitivity” (Davidson, 1996).

IV. How to create an ethical culture?

“The leaders of a business may create an ethical culture by exhibiting the type of behaviour

they’d like to see in employees” (Kelchener, n.d.). The code of ethics seems to be a great tool

in curbing ethical behaviours. However, the tone at the top seems to be more important. A

research from Toor and Ofori (2009) reveal that ethical leadership plays a mediating role in

the relationship between employee outcomes and organizational culture. Specifically,

“ethical leadership is positively and significantly associated with transformational leadership,

transformational culture of organization, contingent reward dimension of transactional

leadership, leader effectiveness, employee willingness to put in extra effort, and employee

satisfaction with the leader” (Toor and Ofori, 2009). We can see that people from Trump’s

cabinet are the ones who have the same philosophy as him. Deregulation, for instance, could

ruin the corporate governance system to ensure market functions ethically and people have

spent years developing it. I am really curious to know what will happen when this tone of the

top is passed down to organisations, society and individuals. Some signs have been shown

from the fact that Uber is still accepted by people even though it has a bad reputation of a

very unethical of culture from the CEO (lack of respect for employees, arrogant, etc.) to

company image (“male-dominated, high octaine investment banking” – Leigh, 2017) and


It is suggested that managers should develop more “humane and future-oriented practices”

depending on the characteristic of a specific entity and its ethical dimensions (Alas, 2006).

According to Alas (2006), over-regulated should be abandoned because the internal

mechanism would “encourage creative solutions, risk taking, and learning from mistakes”.

This inner mechanism is also said to lead by collectivism of the entity itself instead of group

collectivism. Moreover, “Managers should avoid aggressiveness in social relationships and

also avoid high levels of power distance” (Alas, 2006). Hence, given the importance of the

code, it should not be overpowered.

Sinclar (1993) discussed two main approaches managers to improve organisational ethics via

culture: the unitary culture approach and the subcultural approach. An organisation with a

unitary culture consider ethics bring in common shared values but it does not always lead to

morality because it excludes self-reflection. On the other side, subcultures within an

organisation nurture ethics from self-reflecting instead of imposing standards. By

understanding this, managers could better reflect cultures and get the best mix of each into

the organisation.

The role of the Board is also important in “establishing and delivering the right behaviours

and importantly the right incentives” (Bischoff, 2016). They can do this by applying the

mechanism illustrated in Appendix 3. It is obvious that one the culture of Ethics and

Compliance is embedded, companies have to continuously implement and assess it using the

factors specified in the chart with the principle performance of people, process and

technology. As the environment is changing dynamically, ethical values could be successfully

reflected in culture using this mechanism.

V. Conclusion

The individuals’ moral structure is so complex than what any organization includes as their

culture. “By a careful examination of a culture that flourishes under the concept of organizing,

a moral organisation is continuously making decisions based on ethical considerations, mixed

with political systems, and social enactments” (Anderson and Englebardt, 2007). Poor culture

would lead to a widespread of bad behaviour, which in turns will taint the organisation

ethically. “For that we require a concerted effort to improve the integrity of business and its

connectivity with society” (Bischoff, 2016). As mentioned above, the Code should be tailored

to the best suitable practice in each organisation. As the value ethics brings into the

organisation is intangible and long term, it is necessary to measure it with the right proxy so

that it is well transferred and interpreted within the organisation. Moreover, Bischoff (2016)

has stated that “we need to promote a culture in our organisations that resonates with

employees and other stakeholders important to us, as much as with the top management”.

Hence, companies that are on the way of designing an ethical culture should analyse what

values are best perceived by their employees and clients in terms of cultures. For the ones

with the culture already emplaced, they should continuously enforce, assess and improve it.


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1. Rationalisation and socialisation of the norms

(Anand, Ashford and Joshi, 2004)

2. Ethics in countries with different culture dimensions

(Alas, 2006)

3. Ethical framework

Voices of our Nation

This is the future of employment for Millennials

Millennials, or Generation Y, are considered as the individuals that became adults around the 21st century. The Millennial generation represents approximately twenty-six percent of the Canadian population. Job hopping is considered as the practice of frequently moving from one job to another. For previous generations, job hopping was more commonly viewed as career suicide causing job-hopping employees to be viewed as lacking focus or as unreliable. Workplace employers were more reluctant to hire job-hopping employees with resumes consisting of several short-term employment experiences. However, the increased popularity of job hopping has lead to more acceptance of this practice by employers and job hopping has less of a stigma in the modern workplace.

The Millennial population is typically optimistic, but with unrealistic workplace expectations. These unrealistic expectations result in a very demanding, savvy generation with a lot of “entrepreneurial” spirit. The Millennials’ mentality makes these employees potentially difficult to manage and hold on to in the workplace. However, as an ethnically diverse generation, Millennials do tend to be more tolerant of differences in society within the workplace. The Millennial population is generally more innovative and able to adapt quickly to advancements in modern technology which can be an asset to workplaces.

Job hopping creates significant workplace issues as this practice makes it more difficult for workplaces to establish consistency and cohesion among employees, with consistent employee turnover, among other workplace issues. Ninety-one percent of Millennials are expected to stay at their current job for less than three years. Several workplaces are struggling to keep their Millennial employees for more than two years. Job hopping can also lead to greater job fulfillment, which is more important to Generation Y workers than it
was to any previous generation and a better quality of work among Millennial employees.

Workplaces need to effectively address the differences in values and expectations of each employee generation. Employers can establish workplace strategies to maximize the potential of their employees. An effective workplace should maintain structure with clearly defined roles and expectations for the employers and employees. Employers should provide leadership and a workplace environment should be created where appropriate employee feedback is encouraged. Millennials have an attitude of being ready to take on the world. Their parents told them they can do it and they can. Employers should recognize this attitude as a strength of millennial employees and encourage the confidence of millennial employees to benefit the workplace. Employers must continue to find ways to implement changing technology to allow workplaces to be successful. Millennial employees are more comfortable in teams, than previous generations, and are more productive when their employers acknowledge their input. Millennial employees’ job satisfaction typically decreases quickly when these employees do not feel effectively engaged in the workplace or that their skills are not being properly utilized. Millennial employees generally need a wider variety of activities to stay engaged in their jobs than previous generations.

Millennials want to enjoy their work and these employees want to be involved in their workplace. Millennials want to make friends in their workplace and prefer to work in teams to accomplish tasks. However, employers must also recognize that maintaining a work and life balance is important to a millennial employees’ productivity. Millennials are more prone to work-related stress as this generation feels more pressure to keep up with the demands of the faster paced, modern workplace. Employers should be concerned if their employees aren’t laughing, going out with workplace friends for lunch, or helping to plan the next company event. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each generation of employees, along with how each generation of employee interacts with other employees, is an important element to a successful workplace. Challenges are ahead for workplaces expecting to retain and advance the Millennial generation of workers, but any workplace willing to meet those challenges can expect well-educated, hard working, and loyal employees in the future.

How to Manage Different Generations
Millennials and the Workplace
Statistics Canada
The Pros and Cons of Job Hopping

Voices of our Nation

Workplace Wellness Programs Need a Big Dose of the Right Stuff

Workplace wellness is any workplace health promotional activity or organizational policy designed to support healthy behavior in the workplace. Employee wellness programs is an attractive benefit for potential employees and major perks for existing employees. Before instituting a wellness program, workplaces should carefully weigh the costs and benefits to determine if initiating a wellness program will serve the needs of the workplace.

Chronic diseases such as depression and hypertension can have a variety of negative impacts on an employee; decline in the overall health, an increase in health-related expenses, lower productivity, as well as days of work missed. Some workplaces have realized the benefits of health promotion, and to curb the costs of rising health care, employers offer workplace health programs to their employees. Ideally, the office should be a place protecting the safety and well-being of employees while providing them with opportunities for better long-term health.

Employee wellness programs can boost office morale and strengthen employee relationships. Whether a workplace institutes a weight loss challenge, a runners group or an on-site gym, the workplace can bring employees together who have a shared interest. Changing how employees interact and support one another can translate to a more supportive and a positive work environment overall.

The cost of employee wellness programs is something that every employer must weigh. Obviously building a gym or bringing in a nutritionist will cost money. Some workplaces may not have the sufficient resources available to implement wellness programs. Workplace wellness programs also include policies intended to facilitate employee health, including allowing time for exercise, providing on-site kitchens and eating areas, offering healthful food options in vending machines, holding “walk and talk” meetings, and offering financial and other incentives for participation. Effective workplace programs, policies, and environments that are health-focused and worker-centered have the potential to significantly benefit employers, employees, their families, and communities.

However, a workplace wellness programs may inadvertently discourage employees from participating in the company’s health benefits. The health within the workplace is made up of numerous factors and some are out of a person’s control. Some employees can be genetically predisposed to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even diabetes, and it is important to take these factors into consideration when developing an effective wellness program for a workplace. For some employees, the idea of required participation in a wellness program is intimidating. If an employee doesn’t reach the workplace’s goal and money is involved, it can potentially add stress within the workplace.

While it remains unclear how well workplace wellness programs are doing at achieving all of their original goals, one thing that is clear is that there are benefits to both the employee and the employer. Wellness programs have led to higher productivity, lower absenteeism with a greater job satisfaction and commitment by employees. By covering the cost of a wellness program, or even just covering a portion of the cost, employers have the ability to take the cost burden of the most efficient programs off of their employees’ shoulders. Investing in clinically-proven wellness programs fosters healthier, more productive, and happier employees. Making wellness a priority by providing incentives can attract the best employees to your workplace. It shows that a workplace will care about the well-being of your employees which will make the top employee prospects want to work for you. Between health benefits, financial incentives, and possibly even improved job satisfaction, workplace wellness programs may be worth implementing in the workplace.

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson and edited by volunteer editor Parul Datta.

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Founder's Blog

Blog and article submissions welcome!!

Blogger invitation

Journey to Diversity Workplaces is both an experiment and a project.

Haven’t you ever wished you could work somewhere better? Somewhere where they went out of their way to not only appreciate you, but treat you right, and pay you fairly?

Our single biggest program that we have right now is our website & educational program. Volunteers submit articles for our blog and library section. These articles help promote change in the workplace and support our ongoing mission.

We invite you to join us in making regular blog and article submissions on topics of interest to you. Check out our submission guidelines to get an idea what we are looking for.

We welcome any and all submissions and appreciate the time our volunteers put into this effort.

Writing not your forte? We also need editors and other volunteers! Volunteers can get involved in a wide range of services.

Voices of our Nation

What Happens When Workers Get Real About The Biggest Problem In America.

Workplace ethics and integrity are crucial elements of employment; both these elements contribute to workplace profitability.  Every workplace should clearly specify what is acceptable behavior and what is not at the outset of hiring. It is important for workplaces to summarize expected conduct in job descriptions or outline these expectations during the interview process. Behavior guidelines should typically address topics, such as harassment, work attire and acceptable language. Employees who don’t follow the rules outlined in a code of conduct may receive written and verbal warnings, and ultimately be fired.

A key component to workplace ethics and behavior is integrity, or being honest and doing the right thing at all times. Workplace integrity starts with honesty and trustworthiness. Integrity requires following through with our word and being honorable with our actions. When employers and employees have integrity, it can create a workplace environment that is respectful and professional. Honesty should be valued in every communication and transaction between employers and employees. Integrity stems from employees being honest with themselves, completing tasks effectively and meeting workplace expectations. Ethical employees are what build a good reputation for a workplace.

Ethics are the glue that can hold workplaces together. Employers must understand the differences between moral values and ethical principals. Moral values are what guide our behaviour while ethical principals are the ways we are expected to act in the workplace. It is also important employees understand the meaning of each of these terms and understand what they can do to ensure their behavior aligns with workplace expectations.

Ethical and behavioural guidelines in the workplace often place a high amount of importance on dedication. Although possessing the necessary skills is essential, a strong work ethic and positive attitude can carry an employee a long way. Dedication is often viewed in the business world as contagious, meaning that employees putting forth a solid effort can often inspire their co-workers to give the same level of effort to their job – ultimately enhancing the productivity of the workplace. Employers and employers taking responsibility for their actions is essential when it comes to workplace ethics and behavior. This means showing up on scheduled workdays, as well as arriving on time and putting in an honest effort into completing assigned tasks while on the job. Employees who exhibit accountability are honest when things go wrong and then work toward a resolution while remaining professional at all times.

A vital aspect of the workplace is working well with others in all levels of a company. Ethics and integrity can help to increase the morale and productivity within a workplace. In many instances, those who are not considered “team players” can face demotion or even termination. On the other hand, those who work well with others can advance.

Following the outlined workplace behaviour may not always eliminate all unethical issues. The best defense against unethical issues is to train employees on how to properly handle unethical situations with integrity. Successful workplaces understand the causes and detrimental effects of negative ethical behaviour. Employers then attempt to limit the amount of unethical issues by creating a code of workplace ethics that encourages behavior that is professional and ethical. It is important that employers understand the strengths and weaknesses of each employee to be able to maximize the potential of each employee. When employers are willing to implement strategies that promote integrity along with ethical and professional behavior, it allows the workplace to be productive and successful.

This article was contributed by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson, and edited by volunteer editor Parul Datta.

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Founder's Blog

Dreaming of better

Why are there so many
Songs about rainbows?
And what’s on the other side
Rainbows are visions
But only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide
So we’ve been told
And some choose to believe it
I know they’re wrong wait and see
Someday we’ll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me

~ Rainbow Connection


In your everyday job, your everyday career – haven’t you ever wondered “isn’t there better?” Why can’t I be treated better? Why not respectfully? Why only meet the minimums of what the employer must do by law? Why do they not exceed the standard?

A friend of mine often likes to joke that my unofficial motto is “A higher standard.” It certainly is true. I’ll also borrow another slogan I’ve hard – “Think Big. Expect Better.” So why is it as workers we can’t have better?

I believe we can and should have BETTER.

I created Journey to Diversity Workplaces to do just that – to create better. And not just create it, but show how it can be done. Leading by example.

I believe:

1. We can have a higher standard. That the Employment Standards Act has thresholds that are too low.

2. We should get paid better. Anyone making less than $16/hour full time is living below the poverty line, and to me that is simply UNACCEPTABLE.

3. The employees should have more say. At J2DW, the employees are our Class A members, and the people who will make up the bulk of the voting members.

4. Safe work is a right, and isn’t optional. Freedom from harassment, physical injury, and freedom from discrimination, even with job advancement.

5. Everyone should get a holiday off – even if they have to work it. Why not give a day in lieu?

We can, and must have a better workplace. For happier employees, and happier employers.