In the first study, subjects read 14 vignettes describing ethical compromises in a business context. Values seen as sacred, such as honesty, loyalty, or the well-being of others, were traded off for the secular values of money or status. An executive secures a big bonus by using a cheap ingredient in a cancer drug, knowing it will kill some people. A project manager takes credit for the work of a subordinate who stayed late at the office. Subjects rated how objectionable the behavior was, and how much business sense it made. Compared with men, women found the acts more offensive, and said they made less business sense....This calls to mind the old Supreme Court case Bradwell v. State (1872), upholding the exclusion of women from the legal profession:
The natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex evidently unfits it for many of the occupations of civil life....Of course, the present-day study leads modern-day thinkers to propose ways to change the workplace so it will align better with the sensibilities of women:
The humane movements of modern society, which have for their object the multiplication of avenues for woman's advancement, and of occupations adapted to her condition and sex, have my heartiest concurrence.... In the nature of things, it is not every citizen of every age, sex, and condition that is qualified for every calling and position....
Kennedy recommends that companies implement more ethical training, select people partially on the basis of ethics, and emphasize ethics as a core cultural value when recruiting. “If business organizations take a long-term view of success, they can allow people to value both ethics and achievement,” she says. “This would allow the people within organizations—both men and women—to be more fully human.”