CHICAGO — Daryl Koehn returns to DePaul University as the Wicklander Chair in Business Ethics, a position she previously held from 1997-98.
Koehn, a professor of philosophy, also will serve as the managing director of the Institute for Business and Professional Ethics where she will promote the importance of ethics among students, business leaders and the Chicago community.
“We have a couple of initiatives directed toward helping develop ethics across the curriculum here at DePaul, but we are also developing programming that will be of interest to the larger business community,” said Koehn.
The institute, an interdisciplinary endeavor between DePaul’s Driehaus College of Business and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, is one of the few ethics institutes to be actively engaged in work supporting smaller and medium-sized social enterprises.
In addition to continuing the essential work that the institute does, Koehn said she has two goals she hopes to tackle right away. The first is to provide information for entrepreneurs considering incorporating as a benefit corporation and for researchers interested in evaluating them as corporations. According to Koehn, a benefit corporation is a “relatively new legal form of incorporating businesses that are for-profit corporate entities and commit to making a positive impact on society or the environment.”
Secondly, she hopes the institute can help fill a gap in business ethics cases. Currently, many business cases deal with problems that typically would be addressed by executives at the C-suite level who have the power and authority to make major financial and strategic decisions; however, those in middle management face their own forms of business ethics challenges and new cases are needed to speak to some of these issues, she said.
Koehn credits DePaul for instilling in its students that the pursuit of profit is not and should not be the sole purpose of business.
“DePaul has always understood that business is a social enterprise,” said Koehn. “I think the university has long been focused on how business can support society and conversely, how society can support businesses.”
Recognizing that business ethics is a mature discipline, Koehn identifies one of the biggest challenges facing the industry today — that corporations believe they already know how to handle ethical issues in the workplace and become complacent about the dangers they face.
“Ethics challenges in business are always with us. In particular, there are many different corporate cultural challenges that change and develop,” she said. “There is always work to be done to have a sound corporate culture.”
Koehn brings a background in philosophy and ethics to the position, having published a number of works on ethics and corporate governance, including: “The Ground of Professional Ethics,” “The Nature of Evil,” “Rethinking Feminist Ethics,” “Local Insights, Global Ethics” and “Living with the Dragon: Thinking and Acting Ethically in a World of Unintended Consequences.”
Koehn earned a doctorate, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in philosophy from the University of Chicago; an MBA from Northwestern University; and a master’s degree in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford University. She has held a number of teaching roles during her career and experienced the corporate world first-hand during her time at First National Bank of Chicago as a consultant and senior product manager.
After leaving DePaul in 1998, Koehn served as the Cullen Chair in Business Ethics at the University of St. Thomas, Texas, from 1998-2010, and then as a professor of business ethics at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota, from 2010-15.
For additional information about the Institute for Business and Professional Ethics visit, http://bit.ly/DIBPE.
Wendy Zamaripa Smit