Local business news has recently been flooded with scandals that are full of ethical issues, but local author and ethics expert Nan DeMars says those ethical dilemmas are nothing new.
"Ethics training is the hottest training there is," DeMars told Twin Cities Business, adding that more and more companies are recognizing the benefits in training employees on ethical issues, including increased productivity, accountability, and loyalty.
What's changed over the years, she says, are not the issues themselves, but how people are dealing with them.
DeMars' new book-titled You've GOT To Be Kidding! How to Keep Your Job Without Losing Your Integrity-guides businesses and employees through real-life ethical dilemmas, often debunking ethical myths in the workplace, including the notion that the "my boss told me to do it" defense is acceptable.
More than 25 years ago, DeMars founded Executary Services, an Edina-based search firm that has evolved and now specializes in workplace ethics seminars, workshops, and keynote presentations, in addition to placing executive assistants with top level officers.
DeMars said she's heard it all through her work with executive assistants at both Executary Services and her lifetime involvement with the International Association of Administrative Professionals-the world's largest association for administrative professionals-including serving six years on the international board and a year as its international president.
In 1998, DeMars published her first book-You Want Me To Do WHAT? When, Where, and How to Draw the Line at Work-which identified ethical issues that were surfacing in the workplace as technology and training evolved.
Her new book goes a step further and guides readers through solving those ethical issues using real-life situations, some that DeMars has heard throughout the years, and others that are plucked from today's headlines-like local businessman Tom Petters' multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme, which "blindsided innocent employees," DeMars said.
DeMars' book touches on all kinds of ethical issues, including lying, gossiping, confidentiality, accountability, and even the ethics of job hunting while still employed.
"[The book] is really a win for everyone on both sides of the aisle," DeMars said, referring to both employees and employers.
In addition to promoting her book, DeMars is busier than ever with her seminars, workshops, and keynote presentations. She notes that companies are not hiring her because they have a problem, but instead want to ensure that their employees know that the company wants them to stay ethical and be accountable for their actions.
DeMars has worked with a long list of companies internationally, including some of the state's largest public companies: Target Corporation, 3M Company, General Mills, Ecolab, and Medtronic.
"I believe strongly that every single person in the work world deals with ethical dilemmas all the time," DeMars said. "They get caught in the middle and they need help to walk through these . . . ethical minefields."