JA Business Ethics

Through hands-on classroom activities, JA Business Ethics fosters students’ ethical decision-making as they prepare to enter the workforce and take part in the global marketplace. Students will recognize and analyze theory, terminology, and concepts; apply skills; and evaluate ethical decision-making. Seven required, five supplemental, volunteer-led sessions.

The key learning objectives listed beside each session state the skills and knowledge students will gain.

Session One: Ethos Island

Students participate in a simulation that introduces them to the topic of ethics. They examine the rationale for ethical standards in an interdependent group.

Key Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Define ethics and interdependence.
  • Express the rationale of the importance of ethical behavior in an interdependent group—personal interest verses society’s best interest.
  • Recognize how ethics are different from rules.
Session Two: Values, Goals, and Choices

Students analyze personal ethical beliefs and examine their own values and goals. Students begin to make plans for achieving one-, five-, and ten-year goals.

Key Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Evaluate personal values in ethical dilemmas.
  • Articulate and identify the steps necessary to maintain and accomplish personal values and goals.
  • Recognize the importance of identifying and understanding personal values as a means of avoiding unethical choices.
Session Three: How to Decide?

Students are introduced to four major ethical theories and apply them to scenarios while analyzing their own ethical philosophy.

Key Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Recognize their assumptions and beliefs about ethics and how their views align with the major theories of ethics.
Session Four: Ethical Decision-Making

Students explore an ethical decision-making model and evaluate their personal decision-making processes.

Key Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Apply an ethical decision-making process to workplace dilemmas.
  • Evaluate possible changes to their own decision-making processes.
Session Five: Organizational Ethics

Students explore professional duties and ethical conflicts within various departments in a business. Working in groups, they apply their knowledge to a real-life situation.

Key Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Express ethical conflicts as situations vary by job and department in a business.
  • Apply to the scenarios information about each department’s potential ethical challenges.
Session Six: Social Responsibility

Working in groups, students explore two prevalent, but conflicting, theories of social responsibility in business ethics and compare their personal beliefs and behaviors with both theories.

Key Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Recognize and apply the two prevalent theories of social responsibility in business ethics.
  • Evaluate personal values related to the theories of social responsibility in business ethics.
Session Seven: Multinational Issues

Through a role-playing activity, students explore several complex ethical issues found in global business. This culminating session incorporates the overall program concepts.

Key Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Recognize the connections between interdependence, social responsibility choices, and ethical decision-making through exploring global issues.
Supplemental Session A: Ethos Island Code of Ethics

Students learn the importance of a code of ethics and practice writing one for their Ethos Island society.

Key Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Articulate the benefits or advantages of having a code of ethics.
  • Develop a code of ethics for a simulated society.
Supplemental Session B: Heroes, Role Models, and Mentors

Students examine the importance of obtaining external assistance when making ethical decisions. They explore the characteristics of heroes, role models, and mentors and the importance of having them in their lives.

Key Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Express the importance of positive, external assistance during the ethical decisions-making process.
  • Recognize characteristics and sources of heroes, role models, and mentors.
Supplemental Session C: Bad Choices from Bad Logic—Fallacies

Students are introduced to 10 common fallacies so they can act on what they know is ethical.

Key Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Recognize common fallacies of logic in persuasive arguments.
  • Act on what they know to be the ethical choice.
Supplementary Session D: Organizational Ethics—Marketing vs. Propaganda

Students learn about organizational ethics by examining the duties responsibilities, and unique ethical challenges faced by a marketing department. They compare ethical decision-making using a code of ethics with unethical marketing using propaganda.

Key Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Express the importance of a code of ethics.
  • Analyze a department in a business to consider how it balances potential ethical conflicts with the duties of that department.
  • Compare the ethical guidelines of the marketing field with common propaganda techniques.
Supplemental Session E: Employee Ethics

Students explore practical ethical guidelines they may encounter in the world of work. Working in groups, they create public service announcements.

Key Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Express the need to recognize and avoid ethical pitfalls in a new work environment.
  • Understand practical guidelines they may encounter in the world of work.
JA Business Ethics enhances students’ learning of the following concepts and skills:

Concepts–Beliefs, Code of Ethics, Employee ethics, Ethical decision-making, Ethical dilemmas, Ethics rationale, Ethics vs. rules, Fallacies, Gatekeeper, Goal assistants, Goal obstructions, Hero, mentor, and role model, Interdependence, Marketing, Multinational corporation, Organizational ethics, Personal ethics, Profit, Propaganda, Social responsibility theories, Stakeholders, Stockholders, Values.

Skills–Analyzing information, Categorizing data, Decision-making, Oral and written communication, Public speaking, Reading for understanding, Understanding the need for mutual respect, Working in groups.

JA Business Ethics is a seven-session course with five supplemental sessions, and is recommended for students in grades 9-12. Instructional materials are packaged for 32 students and include detailed activity plans for the volunteer, workbooks for students, and consumable materials to be used in the classroom.

All JA programs are designed to support the skills and competencies identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. These programs also augment school-based, work-based, and connecting activities for communities with school-to-work initiatives.