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Raytheon Lecture Explores Creating Ethical Corporate Cultures

November 11, 2003

WALTHAM, Mass.- As President and CEO of Merck & Co., Inc., Ray Gilmartin knows his company is at an advantage. Not by the salaries they pay their employees or how luxurious their offices are- but for something much more important in his eyes.

"Ethics is clearly a source of competitive advantage for us," he said. "Our people are proud of how they conduct themselves and how they do business."

Gilmartin's lecture, Ethics and the Corporate Culture, was the second Raytheon Lecture in Business Ethics, presented by Bentley's Center for Business Ethics through the generous support of Raytheon.

With this lecture, Bentley joins the WGBH Forum Network as a corporate partner. Gilmartin's lecture will be posted soon in the arena of Ethics and Social Responsibility. The WGBH Forum Network is an audio and video streaming web site devoted to presentations, thought-provoking lectures and panel discussions hosted by distinguished cultural and educational organizations.

Gilmartin discussed the foundation Merck has in place, including the Office of Ethics that reports directly to him and a Code of Conduct - a booklet that's printed in 25 different languages. He's a firm believer in practicing what he preaches.

"It's not enough for to say we're an ethical company and that we do things right," he said. "One must go way beyond that. The environment not only expects, but supports ethical behavior."

Gilmartin cited three keys for creating a strong ethical culture:

  • Top leaders must set the right tone and echo it throughout the organization
  • Companies must offer formal training in ethics and standards of conduct
  • Companies must provide formal mechanisms for reporting any wrongdoings

But just because a system is in place doesn't mean it works perfectly.

"While we have a long history of adhering to the highest standards,.these resources aren't worth it unless our employees know about them and use them," he said.

Mr. Gilmartin joined Merck as President and chief executive officer in June 1994 - the first President and CEO hired from outside the company. He was named chairman of the board in November 1994. He joined Merck after serving as chairman, President and CEO of Becton Dickinson. He is a member of President Bush's Export Council, and serves on the boards of General Mills, Inc., the Microsoft Corporation, and on Harvard Business School's Board of Directors of the Associates. Mr. Gilmartin earned a degree in electrical engineering from Union College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Merck is one of the world's largest research-driven pharmaceutical companies. The company employs more than 70,000 people worldwide and is headquartered in New Jersey. This year, BusinessWeek ranked Merck number 20 out of 50 top-performing companies. Merck is widely recognized for its efforts to improve global health and access to medicines.

BENTLEY UNIVERSITY is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit

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