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Ethics Expert from Dell Speaks to Students

Nov. 30, 2004

By Ashley Johnson

On Thursday, Nov. 4 2004 Baylor University alumna and Director of Global Ethics for Dell Inc. Leslie Sobon visited and spoke to about twenty students in a Strategy course as part of Baylor Business Ethics Forum’s ethics officers in the classroom. 

Sobon, who received her MBA from the Baylor Hankamer School of Business, had three main points in her discussion: ethical violations in corporations, the regulatory environment and ethics at Dell Inc.  

According to Sobon, there are three general buckets of ethical violations that corporations fall into.  The third bucket, also known as financial distortion, is what Sobon says “keeps her up at night with Dell Inc.” 

Financial distortion has to do with revenue recognition and examples of such corporation violators usually involve computer associates. 

Sobon then gave reasons as to why ethical violations even occur in a corporation, such as lack of leadership, lack of management, pressure to perform, employees not engaged, groupthink, etc.

According to Sobon, a corporation should care about its actions because “Wall Street has put inherent value in a stock price for having an ethical environment.”

As for Dell, Sobon said that the corporation considers ethics a business imperative, especially when it comes to the globalization of Dell.

Sobon, who runs the Global Ethics Office at Dell Inc, handles day to day incident management, drives training and communications and does risk assessments. 

Sobon said, “I am not the moral compass for the company, management has to own their actions.”

   However, Sobon’s job for Dell Inc. is to make sure “ethics sits everywhere in the corporation.”  

At the end of Sobon’s ethical discussion Baylor senior Tiffany Bradley, a twenty-two-year-old from Houston, Texas, said the topic impacted her personally because “ethics is an important topic for anyone going into business.”

While getting a double major in marketing and management from Baylor, Bradley thinks that the corporate speaker in the classroom as part of the Ethics Forum gives students a whole new perspective on business, especially because it includes real life examples. 

Bradley said, “I like the Business Ethics Forum and the initiative Baylor took to incorporate ethics because what Baylor stands for is included in students' learning.”

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