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'Donuts and Dilemmas' Provides Students Opportunity to Discuss Workplace Ethics

A group of about 25 undergraduate students gathered with two Deloitte representatives last month for the inaugural ‘Donuts and Dilemmas’ event, a new initiative spearheaded by Honor and Integrity Director Jennifer Eury. The Donuts and Dilemmas series aims to provide students an opportunity to engage in an open discussion about ethical dilemmas in the professional workplace.
April 8, 2014

A group of about 25 undergraduate students gathered with two Deloitte representatives last month for the inaugural ‘Donuts and Dilemmas’ event, a new initiative spearheaded by Honor and Integrity Director Jennifer Eury. The Donuts and Dilemmas series aims to provide students an opportunity to engage in an open discussion about ethical dilemmas in the professional workplace.

Ryan Ehrlich ’04 Finance and Caitlin Doyle ’12 IST, both Deloitte employees and Penn State alumni, began the discussion by candidly sharing how they handled ethical issues they’ve faced in their own careers. They also provided some insights into how they made their decisions and how, if at all, they would do things differently the next time.

“Taking full responsibility for issues and trying to make it right is the best way to deal with ethical mistakes.”

“You’re going to face ethical dilemmas on a daily basis,” said Ehrlich. He went on to explain that, even if it’s just a little thing, those little things go on to establish a pattern—and eventually, he said, students might find themselves in a bigger, more serious situation.

Ehrlich and Doyle also gave students a case to discuss in small groups to make the session even more interactive. The case stimulated an active discussion, because there was no clear right or wrong answer. And that was the point, explained Ehrlich.

He explained to the students that there will be gray areas between looking out for your own best interests and acting with integrity. He suggested that they always try to look at the bigger picture.

And if students make a mistake? That’s inevitable, say Ehrlich and Doyle. The two offered some advice for doing your best to make things right after making a poor decision.

“Taking full responsibility for issues and trying to make it right is the best way to deal with ethical mistakes,” said Ehrlich.

Eury hopes to connect students with more companies in the coming months through Donuts and Dilemmas. Companies interested in sponsoring a future event should contact her at integrity@smeal.psu.edu.

About Honor and Integrity at Smeal
Integrity and ethical behavior are fundamental to the Smeal College of Business culture. Commonly referred to as “honor and integrity,” these values underscore who we are and what we do as a leading business school community, both in and out of the classroom. The college's foundation of honor and integrity lies in the Honor Code, drafted in partnership with MBA students in 2006 and adopted by undergraduates in 2007. Honor and integrity are infused into courses across the Smeal curriculum, and the G. Albert Shoemaker Program in Business Ethics supports ethics lectures and related scholarly research. For more information on honor and integrity at Smeal, visit www.smeal.psu.edu/about/honor.

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