With the Enrons, WorldComs, and Tycos of the world falling like dominoes, the casual observer might think we live in an age when scandal is routine. We do not, but there is more than one bad apple upsetting the cart that is the U.S. economy. In companies large and small, one person's actions can damn an entire organization. Martha Stewart's travails are outside the scope of her company, but that doesn't bring solace to her stockholders. Jayson Blair's phony reporting toppled several of his superiors at the venerable New York Times. Ironically, several institutions of higher education recently asked new hires to resign over falsely claimed advanced degrees.
When one wrong hire can do so much damage, and even cost the person doing the hiring his career, this is obviously not a problem to be ignored. "The one thing I find, talking to CEOs, is that they are really concerned about this, unlike any time I've ever seen," says Paul Danos, the dean of Dartmouth's Amos Tuck School of Business. "I think basically what you're going to find in the next few years is a tremendous amount of concern for this issue. It's going to be comparable to the quality movement of the '80s. This is going to be the ethics movement of the first decade of this century."
So how can you protect your company and make ethical hires? Follow this advice.
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