IBECC consists of three separate competitions: a full presentation followed by Q&A and feedback; a 10-minute presentation and a 90-second presentation. This is essentially a “business presentation” competition. Teams should view themselves as members of a corporation, consulting company or the like speaking to a business audience (senior management of a specific company, executives representing an industry, etc.). Teams will be expected to specify their “business identity” and that of their audience before they begin the presentation.
Students put together teams of 3 to 5 members and select an appropriate case. Each team prepares a presentation in which students explain the legal, financial and ethical dimensions of the problem. They then recommend a solution that must pass muster on all three counts. Presentations should last roughly 25 minutes (you will have a 5 minute grace period) and are judged largely by professional corporate ethics and compliance officers. Teams are questioned for an additional 20 to 30 minutes by the judges, who then give the teams feedback on their performance. The idea of the exercise is to help students see that it is possible to do business profitably while at the same time act ethically.The format that works best is for a team to think of itself as either an internal or outside consulting group that has been asked by senior management or the Board to analyze the problem and propose a solution.
Click here for an example of the judging form.
For discussion of “Presentation Do’s and Don’t’s,” click here for a video by Professor Thomas White, Founder of IBECC.
This presentation focuses solely on the ethical issues and is given by two or three members of the team. Teams are to imagine that they have been called back by their client company to focus strictly on the ethical aspects of the issue at hand. Teams will begin with a very brief overview of their entire analysis, but they will concentrate primarily on how there are ethical dimensions of the problem and how their solution addresses them effectively.
There is no Q&A. Teams may not use PowerPoint.
This presentation also focuses solely on the ethical issues and is given by one member of the team. We recommend that the speaker imagine that he or she is now an employee at the company and they are at a meeting where people are discussing their topic. However, no one has touched on any of the ethical issues. In 90 seconds, explain to the rest of the people around the table why there are important ethical issues that need to be addressed. There is no Q&A. Teams may not use PowerPoint.
Executive Summary: Teams must prepare at least a one-page handout that contains: the names of the speakers; an outline of your presentation; and a one or two paragraph summary of the content of your talk. Identify which particular group your audience should imagine themselves as (senior managers, etc.). Specify this on your handout and announce it at the start of your presentation. Bring at least 10 copies. You may, of course, use any other handouts you desire. Click here for the 2015 Executive Summary Booklet.
Every member of your team must speak at some point during the presentation.
Dress in appropriate business attire. Suits are preferred
If you’re using something like PowerPoint, have that loaded onto a laptop. You’ll then plug that into a video projector when you arrive at your session on Thursday.
We recommend that you think about your presentation in either of the following two ways:
A) You describe a problem that some business is facing, and you then propose a solution. Your description of the problem should include its business, legal and ethical dimensions. BE SURE TO EXPLAIN HOW THIS PROBLEM HAS AN ETHICAL DIMENSION. (See the section on “handling the ethical issues” below.) Explain how your solution: is legal, makes sense financially, and is ethically defensible. BE SURE TO EXPLAIN WHY YOUR SOLUTION IS ETHICALLY ACCEPTABLE.
B) You describe a problem that some business has faced and the solution that it chose. Your description should include its legal, business and ethical dimensions. BE SURE TO EXPLAIN HOW THIS PROBLEM HAS AN ETHICAL DIMENSION. You will then evaluate the company’s solution from business and ethical perspectives. BE SURE TO EXPLAIN WHY THE COMPANY’S SOLUTION IS ETHICALLY ACCEPTABLE OR UNACCEPTABLE. If you think it is unacceptable, propose an alternative solution and explain why yours is better.
Be certain that you are ultimately taking a position. That is, do not simply report on different ways that the issue can be regarded. If your team cannot agree about what position it should take, explain the majority and minority positions and set out the areas of differences.
Your overall goals are: to illuminate the financial, legal and ethical dimensions of the problem, and to recommend a solution (or analyze how a corporation handled a situation) that makes sense financially, legally and ethically. Here are some suggestions for covering these three areas.
HANDLING THE FINANCIAL ISSUES. Identify the financial impact of the problem and the financial implications of the solution. This isn’t so much an exercise in detailed financial analysis (although feel free to do so, if you like that sort of thing) as much as an explanation of: how (and to what extent) the problem raises or lowers the company’s costs or profits; how expensive your solution is; whether the company is in a position to afford your solution; and the like.
HANDLING THE LEGAL ISSUES. Identify laws, regulations or court cases that effectively restrict what the company may do. Obviously, significant fines or settlements are important financial issues.
HANDLING THE ETHICAL ISSUES. One-third of your score will depend on how well you handle the ethical dimensions of your case. You will be expected to operate within a framework that discusses ethics in terms of a) the tangible good and/or harm experienced by those affected (humans and, if appropriate, nonhumans) and b) the “rights” or fundamental moral principles involved. (In other words, you are expected to utilize a secular, philosohical framework.) This can be done by answering the following series of questions:
- Does the problem/solution harm anyone?
- Are there ways that those harmed (or others) are benefited in a way that justifies the harm? Does the good outweigh the harm?
- In thinking about these benefits and harms, are you taking into account that some goods are qualitatively better than others and that some harms are qualitatively worse than others?
- Completely apart form the tangible impact of the problem/solution on those affected, is everyone involved being treated appropriately? That is, are there specific “rights” or “duties” that are a part of this case that must be respected? Is there a conflict of rights, duties or obligations? How should the conflict be handled?
An even simpler way of approaching this is to use just two ideas, which, it is fair to say, are good candidates for universal moral principles:
- Do no harm. (Do nothing that increases the risk of harm. If you’re responsible for harm, repair the damage.)
- Treat others appropriately. (Actions should respect principles of fairness, justice, equality, truthfulness, dignity, etc. Act responsibly. Keep agreements.)
If your company or industry has a mission statement or list of corporate values, definitely make a central part of your argument. These statements represent how companies identify ethics. So they’re extremely helpful in your presentation.
IN TALKING ABOUT ETHICS, HOWEVER, YOU DEFINITELY SHOULD NOT USE TECHNICAL, PHILOSOPHICAL TERMINOLOGY OR CITE PLATO, ARISTOTLE, MILL, KANT, OR WHOMEVER. TALK ABOUT ETHICS IN THE WAY PEOPLE IN BUSINESS DO–RELYING PRIMARILY ON A COMPANY’S MISSION STATEMENT OR CODE OF VALUES.
In order for a team to receive a cash prize or award of any sort, 1) all deadlines must be met, and 2) the presentation must be structured so that the audience imagined is a group from business (senior managers, board of directors, etc.), not a legislative body, for example.
If you have questions or problems about any aspect of this competition, please contact Professor Thomas White (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Kirsten Scanlin (email@example.com).