"You acted like a dummy: Get out of here." That's how one expert in business ethics summed up the attitude of the Boeing Company toward chief executive Harry Stonecipher. When Stonecipher's extramarital affair with a Boeing employee became public, Boeing's board forced him out.
The irony is that Boeing hired Stonecipher to mop up the ethical mess left by his predecessor, who resigned following full-blown scandals of his own. Stonecipher designed a "zero tolerance" ethics code in order to reassure investors and customers that Boeing was cleaning up its act. But as Stonecipher himself admits, "I violated my own standards. I used poor judgment."
Did Boeing go too far in firing Stonecipher for what many consider private conduct that has nothing to do with his job? Absolutely not, says an expert in business ethics.
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