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#YourCrowd is an initiative dedicated to the study of crowd behaviors and experiences, created and moderated by the strategy team at BaAM.

Like many of you, I have been giving a lot of thought to what is currently going on in health care in this COVID-19 world. Enter Heather Fitzgerald, clinical ethicist at Children’s Hospital in Denver, CO. She began her career as a nurse in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and then decided to get lots of degrees (she’s currently a PhD candidate in bioethics) and focus first on clinical ethics and now in her current position, organizational ethics.

I asked Fitzgerald, how her ethics practice might be applied to the challenges facing organizations in our industry – leagues, teams, venue operators and event producers.

According to Fitzgerald:

Clinical Ethics is about discerning the right thing to do for a patient when there is conflict, disagreement or uncertainty about clinically-indicated options. The first ethical commitment in medicine, of course, is to do no harm. Generally speaking, benefit or harm is determined by the adult patient with capacity for decision making.

This process of decision making also incorporates:

  • Stakeholders’ interests – parents, team, child if old enough to be consulted
  • Their values
  • Benefit/burden/risk calculus of available, recommended options

Now the focus of my work is on Organizational Ethics, which is about how to cultivate an ethical climate based on an organization’s core values and recognizing that those values can sometimes be in tension with each other. It’s true that an organization’s core values serve as its moral compass. It’s also true that in some situations, one core value must eclipse another to best serve the organization’s mission. Organizational ethics provides frameworks to navigate those tensions and promote transparency in the process.”

Fitzgerald had the following thoughts:

So, how might ethics training be applied to help organizations like ours that host large groups of people and hope to get back to some kind of normal?


Adopt a Utilitarian Framework

In clinical ethics, the focus is commonly on consideration of one patient’s interests. COVID-19 and the response to mitigate the impact of the pandemic illuminate the importance of considering collective well-being and the interests of community, over individual interests.

The pandemic requires that we think about what will do the most good for the most people, even if that means individual liberty must be limited temporarily to achieve it.


Engage Your Values

You want to create a climate where it is normative to engage and live your values. Speak to your organizational values. Be transparent about how those shape decisions.

It’s about what you should do - in contrast to compliance - which is about what you must do.


Support Your Team

In health care, if we don’t take care of nurses and doctors and all the health care workers, we can’t possibly take good care of the patients.

You clearly want to keep your guests safe but first and foremost I believe you have a moral obligation to take care of your team members.

Crossroad 2


People look up to the sports figures, musicians and performers as their heroes and influencers – just as our patients and families look to our nurses and doctors for guidance. So, you are in a de facto leadership position and you can take this opportunity to set an example.

You need to consider your organization’s responsibility in welcoming all people back.

Connecting your decision for welcoming people back – employees, performers/athletes and fans alike – with your values as well as compliance guidelines and best practices will help you to make the best decisions for all your crowds.

Heather Fitzgerald, RN, MS is the Director of Resilience, Ethics and Wellness at Children’s Hospital in Denver, CO. She is a doctoral candidate in organizational ethics at Loyola University Chicago. A lover of music and the outdoors, Heather is especially looking forward to the return of the Denver Botanic Gardens Concert Series in 2021!

Lucy Strong is thrilled to be a member of BaAM's Strategy team and looks forward to meeting all of you live and in person – when all of this is over.

We know significant research efforts focus on fans and followers as individuals, but with #YourCrowd, we are tapping the brightest minds and broadening the dialogue to better understand factors at play when engaging larger audiences in real life or in digital life.

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