a viewpoint of ethics regarding our connected generation

Are Ethics Lost on the Connected Generation?
By Elizabeth Simon April 2019

The youth of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, so the importance of instilling ethics in today's youth is astronomical. As a Director of Ethics, my job is to instill our company values in every employee and help them to make the ethical decisions that our company expects of them. But I don't often work with the younger generation - the connected generation (born after 2005) - where my children fall. Unfortunately, I got to experience, first-hand, the ethics of the connected generation in my own backyard.

My girls, ages 12 and 9, wanted to watch a scary movie. I looked up the reviews and parental guide and determined that it was not appropriate for children under the age of 10. That meant that my 12-year-old was allowed to watch it, but my 9-year-old was not. The two of them got together and decided to make a deal with me - they would rake the entire backyard if I let them watch the movie. I relented and made the deal, under the condition that they finish the leaves in two days, or neither of them would have any TV for the entire month of January. They agreed.

That night, they watch the movie. My 9-year-old survived, although she was a little scared. But all was well.

The next day, I sent them outside to start raking and bagging leaves. After coming back inside and complaining about 100 times about how hard it was to rake leaves, my 12-year-old convinced my 9-year-old to cut a few corners. "Mom will never know, and we'll get it done faster." She raked the leaves under the deck, behind the shed, and beside the house to hide them from my view at the window. She "filled" bags by fluffing up the leaves so the bags looked full, when in reality, they were less than half full. I was, after all, only looking from the window and not coming out to look in person...yet. After the second day, I went out to inspect the leaves. They still weren't done, but you could see most of the grass. Then I looked around and found the leaves under the deck and piled up beside the house and behind the shed. I also pushed the leaves down in all the "full" bags. I was not happy with the end result of their leaf raking.

The next day, I divided the yard in two parts. My 9-year-old would finish the perimeter of the yard near the fence and from the tree to the back of the yard, and my 12-year-old would do from the tree to the house. The tree is only about 5 yards from the house, and the portion of the year from the tree to the back is much farther. So, in reality, my 9-year-old had more of the yard to complete than my 12-year-old. But my 12-year-old immediately started complaining that my division of the yard was not fair. I was quick to remind her that her sister actually had more space to cover, but she said that there were more leaves in her section. I then pointed out to her that if she hadn't raked the leaves under the deck and beside the house to begin with, she would have had less leaves to rake.

Once the leaves were finally done, I took my 12-year-old daughter out to dinner to talk about the job. I asked her if she knew why Wendy's burgers were square instead of round like everyone else's burgers. She didn't know. I then began my discussion on ethics. Wendy's burgers are square because founder Dave Thomas doesn't like "cutting corners." The square burgers are the perfect example and reminder to his employees of what the values of the company are. Every day when they are making burgers then have a pictorial of what the company believes and how they are expected to act as an employee of Wendy's.

Cutting corners may get you a win in the short term, but it never wins in the long-term. If we had left the leaves under the deck, we could have had snakes in our yard and bugs in our house come summertime. In this case, raking the leaves under the deck and hiding them behind the house only made her have to go back out and rake the leaves again for a third day and lose TV for the month of January. I then explained to her what ethics was - doing the right thing, even when no one is looking. If she had done the right thing and raked the leaves correctly instead of hiding them, she would have been done in two days and still had TV privileges. But it shouldn't matter if I was looking or not. Because even if I'm not looking, she should have chosen to do the right thing and be a good role model for her younger sister.

Ethics is a choice. "Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14). More than ever, parents need to instill ethics in their children and reinforce it over and over. It is their ethics that will lead us in 2030 and beyond.

Meet GACFE Member...







Elizabeth Simon,

Director of Ethics and Compliance at Cox Communications

In our third issue of the GACFE Financial Crimes Times, our spotlight shines this quarter upon Elizabeth Simon. Elizabeth Simon is the Director of Ethics & Compliance at Cox Communications.  She is responsible for the day-to-day activities of the Corporate Compliance program.  She administers the case management system for investigations of reports into the ethics hotline, ensures the compliance intranet site is maintained, maintains the Code of Conduct, serves as the Records Coordinator for the company and leads other compliance projects.

Prior to working at Cox, Elizabeth was in both the Internal Audit and Global Security departments at Kimberly-Clark.  She managed K-C’s anti-fraud program and internal audit’s data analytics.  Prior to K-C, she also worked at Ernst & Young and Pricewaterhouse Coopers in forensic accounting and audit positions. Elizabeth has a Masters' degree in Accountancy from East Carolina University, is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Fraud Examiner.

Elizabeth was elected to the Board of Regents for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners in January of 2018 and has served in that capacity ever since.  She has been a member of the Georgia Chapter of the ACFE for a year.  She is also the Chair of the Board for the Atlanta Compliance & Ethics Roundtable.  Outside of work, she is an avid marathon runner and has just completed her goal of running a marathon in all 50 states.  She also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children.