By Macy Forteza, Marketing ’18
The 11th Annual Eller High School Ethics Forum took place on Friday, April 7, 2017 at the UA Stadium Club. The purpose of the event was to provide high school students with hands-on experience in addressing personal and professional ethical dilemmas. The forum was held by the Eller College Center for Leadership Ethics, and sponsored by Vantage West Credit Union.
Sixty high school students from seven schools in Tucson (Salpointe Catholic High School, Nogales High School, San Miguel High School, Arcadia High School, and Westwood High School) were challenged with multiple ethical dilemmas and taught how to work through them. The students were given ethics cases created by Paul Melendez, Professor of Practice in Management and Organizations and Founder of the Center for Leadership Ethics.
Dr. Melendez’s case, “Child Labor: Little Hands, Big Profits,” discusses child labor in Bangladesh, which does not in fact violate the law in Bangladesh, though it is against the law in the United States. The purpose of this case is to make people think about ethics in the context of culture. The case puts a different perspective on ethical dilemmas; the issue of child labor is accepted in various cultures because it’s a norm. Melendez got students to rustle with the question of Which ethics to do you follow? and Do your actions follow with what you grew up with or what businesses do?
Students from the Center for Leadership Ethics and the professional business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi led discussions while participating high school students evaluated and discussed their ethical explanations for each case.
The forum tested the students, challenging their ethical thinking and interpretations, raising awareness of the importance of corporate social responsibility, and providing a networking opportunity.
“The High School Ethics Forum is an outstanding opportunity to expose some of the best and brightest Arizona high school students to the essential concepts and consequences of business and personal ethics,” said Mitch Pisik, Chairman of the Vantage West Credit Union’s Board of Directors.
Pisik has been actively involved in business strategy and ethics forums. He has also given presentations for corporations, been involved with MBA classes, and now works with high school students.
“The responses, discussions, and thought processes of these teenagers were within striking distance of their older brethren. A very impressive group,” said Pisik.
Pisik knows the students left the forum with “an expanded, broader, and deeper appreciation for the complexities of the world overall, and in business specifically.” He was particularly impressed with the quality and quantity of questions they asked him and Melendez.
He left the students with an inspirational statement: “It all starts with ethics. If you have ethics, then you have trust. If you have trust, then you can be a leader. If you are a leader, then you have multiple opportunities. If you have opportunities, then you can succeed in life. And when you succeed, life is sweet. It all starts with ethics.”
Header photo courtesy Paul Melendez.