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W. Michael Hoffman, Executive Director of the Bentley College Center for Business Ethics, Named Humanist of the Year by Ethical Society of Boston

June 13, 2007


W. Michael Hoffman, founder and executive director of the Center for Business Ethics (CBE) at Bentley College, the longest-running center of its kind, was named Humanist of the Year by the Ethical Society of Boston at a May 13 awards program in Cambridge, Mass.

In remarks delivered at the event, Hoffman underscored the importance of recent legislation such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, but also warned against a reliance on these regulations. "Corporate America must not become preoccupied with a profusion of rules and an obsession with checking boxes," he said. "If we are to ensure the ethical future of business, we must get back to basics - what I see as a values-driven approach. People need to be able to recognize when they're getting into an ethical gray area and to know how to navigate their way through it by reference to some fundamental principles and values."

Hoffman noted that the way to do this is for organizations to put their values on the table. "An organization needs to be clear about what its values are - a surprising number of corporations are not clear - and those values need to be formulated and communicated so that they not only make sense, but also resonate with everyone in the organization," he said. "The corporations that are on the ethical leading edge are driven by the conviction that whatever they do in business must be consistent with their values. When businesses are run in this way, compliance with laws and regulations tends to be something that employees naturally factor into their decision-making processes."

Since 1974, the Ethical Society of Boston has annually presented the Humanist of the Year Award to an individual or group that has made a distinctive contribution to the moral life of New England. Hoffman joins a prestigious circle of past winners who hail from a variety of backgrounds and include: Joe Bergantino, I-Team reporter for WBZ-TV News, Boston; Dr. Marcia Angell, author and former editor of New England Journal of Medicine; Rev. Bruce Wall, founder of Drop-A-Dime; Joshua Rubenstein, New England Amnesty International; and Dr. Helen Caldicott, advocate of citizen action to remedy the nuclear and environmental crises.

Hoffman founded the Center for Business Ethics in 1976. He has written or edited 16 books on business ethics and is the author of more than 60 articles. He is featured frequently in the news media for analysis and commentary on ethical issues of the day. For more than 20 years, Hoffman has been consulting on business ethics for universities, government agencies and corporations in many different industries. He is the adviser to the Ethics and Compliance Officer Association (ECOA) which he co-founded in 1991. He is the past president of the Society for Business Ethics and is also the senior ethics consultant for LRN, the Legal Knowledge Company, headquartered in Los Angeles.

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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