SOUTH FORSYTH — When about 150 high school students gathered Thursday at a popular outdoor shopping mall in Forsyth County, it was not to hang out. It was to prepare themselves for their future as ethical adults.
The Business Ethics Experience joined with Junior Achievement, merchants throughout The Collection at Forsyth and all five Forsyth County public high schools for a hands-on conference that placed students in ethical dilemma scenarios that occur in the real business world.
The University of North Georgia’s BB&T Center for Ethical Business Leadership put the event on as an effort to teach young people how to handle situations they may experience as they become professional adults.
“Instead of a what-would-you-do situation in the classroom that they may or may not remember, we wanted to actually bring them out into the businesses and real life situations that are happening with their high school-level employees,” said Rose Procter, director of the UNG Center.
Procter said the critical thinking can help create an ethical foundation for when students encounter a situation early on in their careers.
Groups talked to an expert panel from the community about each scenario.
“The nervousness of sitting in front of someone who is experienced and who has authority can prepare them for getting into the real world,” Procter said.
She added that the program started as a partnership with the school system in neighboring Hall County, but the goal is to involve UNG’s entire 30-county region.
“They are our future leaders, who we want to set … in the right mindset,” said Vishal Amin of The Joint…The Chiropractic Place. “It’s important they know the rights and wrongs, the business side of ethics that go on in everyday life.”
The scenario that played out at his business was of insurance fraud, where students saw a doctor take cash payments for services while the front desk also accepted insurance-based payment.
“This happens all the time. You hear about it in the news, with Medicare fraud being very, very big right now,” Amin said. “It brings it closer to home for the students, so they know what’s going on … They’ll face issues like this.”
Other Collection businesses that participated were: AMC Forsyth 12, Barnes & Noble, Mellow Mushroom, Bravura, Carta Bella, Aria Salon Spa Shoppe and Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q.