Curated Content for Alumni

Articles, podcasts and thought pieces relevant to Cranlana alumni and Fellows.

archaeology ethics

When Is It Okay To Dig Up The Dead?

Human bones tell stories that would otherwise be lost to history. But archaeologists are increasingly confronted with demands to let past generations rest in peace.

The ethical debate surrounding archaeologists unearthing and studying human remains is one of long-standing.

In this article Mark Strauss asks why we care so much about the rights of the dead, who, by virtue of their non-living status, have no apparent opinion on the matter?

via National Geographic, 7 April 2016

statistical noise

The Benefits of Statistical Noise

The heightened tendency to tune out some data as unimportant is a well-known side effect of expertise, which encourages leaders to become highly attuned to some signals and patterns at the expense of others.

Yet many things in life—academic publishing, health care, and housing policy among them—require addressing individual challenges within the context of complex systems. People engaged in designing systems, from business plans to public policy, must compel themselves to deeply and empathetically understand both the needs of the people they are designing for and the systems in which they operate, and critically question what their legitimate desire for fairness and consistency leaves out. If they don’t, their well-meaning efforts to reduce noise may inadvertently strip away essential signals, causing them to miss patterns, gaps, and perspectives in data that deserve their attention.

via Behavioral Scientist, 24 August 2020

AI bias

AI Learns Our Workplace Biases. Can It Help Us Unlearn Them?

Engineers at Amazon created an AI hiring tool they hoped would change hiring for good, and for the better, by bypassing the biases and errors of human hiring managers.

Instead, the machine simply learned to make the kind of mistakes its creators wanted to avoid. It’s a good example of how AI is only as smart as the input it gets.

If biases are present in the data, machines will learn and replicate them. On the flip side, if AI can identify the subtle decisions that end up excluding people from employment, it can also spot those that lead to more diverse and inclusive workplaces.

via The New York Times, 10 March 2020

boards

Top Boards Do These 4 Things Differently

Boards need to take a key role in preventing ethics failures before they happen. Work done by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics points to 5 steps every board should take to get out in front of ethics problems.

via Marketwatch, 14 August 2014

board ethics

5 Ethical Responsibilities of Corporate Boards.

Boards need to take a key role in preventing ethics failures before they happen. Work done by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics points to 5 steps every board should take to get out in front of ethics problems.

via Marketwatch, 14 August 2014

big data

Data Ethics

The world’s first guide on data ethics for brands has been launched to encourage companies to see the vital important of addressing the gap between what they can do and what they should do. For the industry, prioritising people over data is regarded as important for brands’ long-term licence to operate. Data ethics are, however, more than the bottom line. Big tech firms have come under increasing scrutiny for their collection and use of data, and the impact that’s had on everything from consumer choices in groceries to political candidates. Questions are being raised about who is building the systems, how they’re using the data and who gets to make these decisions.

August 2020

fractured workforce

The workforce is fractured. This is how leaders need to bring people together

How do leaders bring together a physically and psychologically fractured workforce? Compassion and humanity will be key at all levels.
Organisations of all sizes and across all sectors and regions have such a disparity of employee experiences of the pandemic that creating a sense of “oneness” is a formidable task.
Pre-existing schisms have been made more visible and more profound by this crisis. But beyond that, the average workforce will contain a vast spectrum of pandemic experiences.
This uniqueness of experience challenges the concept of fairness. How can you be fair and consistent when the spectrum of needs varies so dramatically? Should you even try?

Fast Company, 18 July 2020

philosophy

The Usefulness of Philosophy

Where our scientific knowledge is insufficient and where theological answers fail to compel and convince us, philosophy remains a useful endeavour.

That doesn’t mean that all philosophising done at the frontier is useful, interesting, or worth listening to, however. Philosophy that is ignorant of science, or of the bizarre and arcane logical rules that science can often follow, will lead even the most brilliant of thinkers astray. To the speculative, curious mind, however, what is known today will never be satisfactory. Until science makes those critical advances, philosophising will be a necessary tool for gazing beyond today’s frontier.

Which is why Cranlana’s programs draw on more than two millennia of philosophical thinking to foster in-depth, practical discussions that sharpen critical reasoning and strengthen moral courage.

Forbes, 30 June 2020

remote working

Implications of Working Without an Office

How do leaders considering what work after the pandemic looks like for their organisation ensure that the model they create brings together the best of the virtual and real worlds for the organisation and its staff?

In early 2020 the world began what is undoubtedly the largest work-from-home experiment in history. Now, as countries reopen but Covid-19 remains a major threat, organisations are wrestling with whether and how to have workers return to their offices. Business leaders need to be able to answer a number of questions to make these decisions. Among them is “What impact has working from home had on productivity and creativity?”

Harvard Business Review, 15 July 2020

alumni

Then Little Things Started Clicking in Place

Imposter syndrome, the doubt that gnaws at you while you wait for others to realise you’re a fraud, is all too real.

Fortunately for us, Executive Colloquium alumna Esther Roadnight discovered the rewards of stepping out of her comfort zone. She was among peers at the table, and their experiences and hers were very similar.

Peter McMullin

Walking Away From Omelas

Alumnus Peter McMullin, a successful lawyer, businessman and philanthropist, knows the impact a Cranlana program can have on participants. During his participation in an Executive Colloquium he had something of an epiphany which pointed him “in a direction I ultimately would have gone on one day anyway, but it really spurred me into action.” With an interest in global human rights and the arts, Peter was active in philanthropy at the time, but the Cranlana program was a turning point and a trigger for his future philanthropy.

via Fundraising and Philanthropy Magazine, 15 July 2020

machine learning

Does Conscious AI Deserve Rights?

Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights?

In this video thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.

via Big Think, 8 July 2020

diversity equals success

Improved Diversity Means Better Results

A world-first study, based on six years of Australian companies’ gender reporting to the federal Workplace Gender Equality Agency, has identified the causal role between greater gender diversity and business success.

It established that companies who appointed a female CEO increased their market value by 5 per cent — worth nearly $80 million to an average ASX200 company.

“If you’re a member of a board or a CEO or executive and you don’t take notice of what this report is telling you, then you are not meeting your obligation to your shareholders or your owners,” says WGEA Director Libby Lyons

via ABC, 19 June 2020

black lives matter

How To Sustain Your Activism Against Police Brutality Beyond This Moment

Scholars and activists have debated how effective empathy is as a tool for behaviour change—particularly when it comes to fighting racism. Paul Bloom argues that empathy allows our bias to drive our decision-making, bell hooks states that empathy is not a promising avenue to systemic racial change, and Alisha Gaines analyzes how an overemphasis on racial empathy in a 1944 landmark study, “An American Dilemma,” led to a blindness about the impact of systemic and institutional racial barriers. This more general understanding and application of empathy has not been an effective aid to fighting systemic oppression.
Bethany Gordon posits that a more nuanced understanding of empathy—and its related concepts—may help us use it more effectively in the fight against racism. There are two strains of empathy that are relevant and can help us better understand (and possibly change) our response: empathic distress and empathic concern, also known as compassion.

via Behavioural Scientist, 15 June 2020

Embedding a Culture of Ethics

Bernie Wise, Senior Manager, Disputes & Customer Advocacy, found the Vincent Fairfax Fellowship made her more effective at embedding a culture of ethics and getting that across to her teams and the broader business. “Ethics in business has been in the spotlight over the past few years. It’s all about the question: what do you do when no one’s looking? That’s what I think ethics is – doing the right thing even when no one is watching”

covid-19

Navigating the “New Normal” Through Philosophy

Umang Kumar responds to Italian Philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s philosophical protests against the restrictions introduced in response to Covid-19, and finds Agamben’s distinctions between “bare life” and the “good life worth living” deeply problematic. Focussing on this distinction is a luxury a Western philosopher might have, but for many the bare life and the good life are intertwined.

via Madras Courier, 28 May 2020

virtue ethics

If Anyone Can See The Morally Unthinkable Online, What Then?

Discussions of ethics tend to focus on matters of conscious choice: which moral rules to follow, or advice on how to approach moral dilemmas. But a hugely significant part of ethics concerns what is unthinkable. You might, for example, be strapped for cash, but robbing the neighbours is unlikely to be an option for you. That’s because, whenever you deliberate, you have already ruled out all kinds of unthinkable possibilities. Some because you can’t contemplate them, some because you’re genuinely not aware of them.

Which brings virtues that by their nature restrict thought and imagination into tension with the prevailing spirit of the internet which operates on the principle that everything should be viewable and thinkable.

via Aeon Media, 17 May 2019

diversity innovation

True Innovation Starts With Diversity

Innovation begins with the courage and willingness to think differently. That begins at the board and C-suite levels. When leadership is thinking differently, they will challenge others in the company to do the same.

via Entrepreneur, 24 October 2019

corporate culture

How to Design an Ethical Organization

No company will ever be perfect, because no human being is perfect. Organisations should aim to design a system that makes being good as easy as possible. Nicholas Epley and Amit Kumar say that means attending carefully to the contexts people are actually in, making ethical principles foundational in strategies and policies, keeping ethics top of mind, rewarding ethical behaviour through a variety of incentives, and encouraging ethical norms in day-to-day practices. Doing so will never turn an organisation full of humans into a host of angels, but it can help them be as ethical as they are capable of being.

HBR, May/June 2019

public policy

Coronavirus Lays Bare 5 Big Housing System Flaws To Be Fixed

Australians had become used to walking past rough sleepers. Policymakers too, seemed unmoved by the people huddled in doorways or sheltering in parks under plastic sheets. That’s until the COVID-19 pandemic rendered rough sleepers visible, because we’ve all been told to stay home and anyone without a home presents a risk of passing on the virus. Hal Pawson and Cranlana Lead Moderator Peter Mares explore the five major vulnerabilities this crisis has laid bare.

The Conversation, 12 May 2020