Professional Training

The (Dis)Honesty Project proposes to strengthen core values espoused by many corporations by radically changing current ethics training programs.

The new ethics program, STEP (Straight Talk Ethics Program), is based on lab research and true stories gathered for the acclaimed documentary film (Dis)Honesty, The Truth About Lies. The program is made up of short monthly modules to provide repetition and reinforcement on an ongoing basis. STEP relies on research to direct its interventions and personal narratives to engage people on an emotional level.

Our research suggests that a key to encouraging ethical behavior is not just in establishing a strong moral code, but finding ways of being consistently reminded of that code.

A multitude of factors – individually or combined – can lead to dishonest behavior. Our research, in the lab and through interviews, shows that many factors are at play, from the feeling that “everyone is doing it,” to self deception, to social norms, to lying for others, to depletion (such as fatigue or hunger), to conflicts of interest, to name just a few. The environment that we occupy and its pressures play a great role in helping us to rationalize and even ignore our misbehavior(s). In 2015, trust fell to the lowest level ever recorded, according to research firm Edelman Berland’s yearly Trust Barometer, with only six of the 27 countries surveyed expressing trust levels above 60%. Over the last 40 years, Americans have become significantly less trusting of each other and less confident in large institutions such as the news, government and business.

Major corporations in many industries – Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, and JP Morgan, for example – administer ethics training on an annual basis. The training is generally mandated by Compliance and/or HR departments and tends to focus on workplace appropriateness and legal issues. This training fails to target the underlying issues and motivations that lead to poor behavior. It emphasizes company rules rather than company values or its individuals. Moreover, training happens only once a year, with no built in reminders. Through STEP, we will work with corporations to institute monthly ethics modules that offer a means of repetition and reinforcement. STEP intends to build trust and to stimulate a deeper exploration of values and character. We will not only ask people to consider the factors that encourage dishonesty but to also actively contribute to building mechanisms that achieve the opposite.

Our professional training programs include presentations, screenings, and discussion sessions. We’ve also designed and tailored programs for specific company settings.

Our clients include: