As a grand kickoff to the University of Wisconsin’s Ethics Week festivities, the commissioner of Major League Baseball presented UW students with a lecture on ethics and integrity in the workplace.
UW alumnus and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was welcomed to campus in an effort to raise awareness on the value of ethics in the business world, UW accounting professor Terry Warfield said.
“[The ethics student board] coordinates a set of activities throughout the year that help us achieve our objectives of ethical and professional development,” Warfield said. “Having a UW alum that leads a major organization speak about ethical leadership is a great kickoff to Ethics Week.”
According to Selig, in baseball, as in all businesses, every businessman’s most important value in dealing with situations is integrity.
Selig added he puts integrity at the forefront of every decision he makes as the commissioner of the MLB. He advised those in attendance to do the same, even when that means making tough decisions that might upset people involved.
“As a social institution, you’re going to have your ups and downs, and you’re going to have situations in which you’re going to have to make unpleasant decisions,” Selig said. “But in everything you do in life, including sports, you can’t equivocate on integrity.”
Selig, who said there have been many tough decisions made in baseball to protect the integrity of the game, cited the decision to toughen investigations and regulations of performance enhancing drugs.
As controversial as the process was, he said it was a choice that had to be made to ensure the integrity of his organization.
“If a gentleman uses performance-enhancing drugs and another doesn’t, that’s not a level playing field, and that’s an integrity issue,” Selig said. “[The MLB] has an obligation to ourselves and our fans that the game will be as honest as possible in every way.”
According to Selig, honesty is the primary factor in business integrity.
He said honesty and transparency of your decisions as a businessman are required to earn the public’s trust, which is important to an institution’s success.
“Remember, if you live and work in a sport, business or any other group, instinctively people will know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it,” Selig said. “If the actions imply something they shouldn’t, they will doubt and you will have nothing left.”
Selig said these lessons in integrity are important, not just for those involved in sports institutions, but for every individual planning on entering the business world.
He said he hopes all UW students in attendance would take these integrity teachings to heart.
“Baseball is a metaphor for life,” Selig said. “You have your ups and downs, and you go through a lot of things, just like life has its disappointments everyday, but in the end it is a sport that brings so much joy to people, and I never forget that.”
Anthony Goodin, a first year student in UW’s law school, said events like this are extremely valuable as hosting “someone of his stature come to our campus solidifies the great reputation and education we have here.”