In troubled times why are Business Ethics searches down?

More times than not, my posts (as a business ethics speaker) relate to ethical choices or fraud prevention.  But for a brief break I stumbled across something that caught my attention and raised a question that is worth asking.  But, before we get to the question, let’s look at where we are today.

I suspect that most folks would say we (at least in this country) could benefit from a strong dose of ethical actions and choices.  We are in the midst of one of the most severe economic recessions.  Our political leaders don’t seem to have the will or desire to make the tough choices we need to make in order to provide for long term stability in our country for our future generations.  Baby Boomers (I’m one of them) are gratified by self indulgence and as the largest group of people in the nation are seemingly unwilling to change our consumption and expectations (for example the Baby Boom generation could give up 1/2 their Social Security) so that we could pay off the debt that we so willingly incurred.  (Ouch I can already hear responses to that one).  Our business leadership in so many ways is so focused on the next quarter and earnings per share that we fail to make decisions that would better serve the long term potential of the companies we lead.  And crime, well, I’ve been busy in this blog reporting on the many instances where folks (and yes I was one of them) found that illegal gains somehow could justify unethical behavior.

So…with all the above said, here’s an interesting fact.  When you go to google.com/trends and search business ethics something quite unique appears…since 2004 the search volume for “business ethics” has gone down.  In fact, it is fairly level during this economic recession – 2008 – 2010.

Here’s the link if you wish to see for yourself.  http://www.google.com/trends?q=business+ethics&ctab=0&geo=all&date=all&sort=0

My question is why?  It would seem with unethical behavior splattered all over the news, from the government with folks like Charlie Rangle, to government spending out of control, to fraudsters like Bernie Madoff, to claims of influence peddling and insider trading at national banking and hedge fund firms, that we need ethics now more than ever.  But, for some reason, searches for business ethics are down…and I’d like some reasonable explanation as to why!

Just for comparison…searches for “sex” are up over the same time period.  What gives here?

If you have an opinion or want to share your thoughts…post your comments – they are welcome here!  Who knows maybe there is some significant logical explanation.  I sure hope so…!

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