For a Code of Ethics for Business Leaders, A Code of Ethics for business leaders is necessary. Unfortunately, I had a problem inserting my audio at the end of the video, where I intended to recite my proposed Code of Ethics and how it should be implemented. I do not believe different companies need different Codes. The essential principles can be generally applied.
My Proposed Code of Ethics:
1) To act with honesty, integrity and fairness in both my professional and personal life;
2) To respect the human rights of employees, colleagues, clients, customers and shareholders as well as the general public;
3) To respect the environment and the community in which I do business;
4) To not bring my firm into disrepute;
5) To not do business with disreputable people, firms or regimes;
6) To take immediate responsibility for any actions that cause me to breach this code;
7) To report any breaches I see of this code among my colleagues to the relevant authority or committee.
I believe the last one about encouraging whistleblowers is necessary. There cannot just be self-regulation, an oft criticism of the legal professions’ Code of Ethics. There needs to be board enforcement and oversight, along with a whistleblower policy that favours and rewards. Otherwise, the Code of Ethics will not be as effective as it needs to be. Even the Hippocratic Oath had oversight by the Gods and Goddesses. Yes, it was that good!
Continuing with the Greek theme, I do not think it is a coincidence that the Madoff whistleblower to the SEC, Harry Markopoulos, is of Greek descent. Most Greeks are determined with high ethical and professional standards. And the current hero of Wall Street, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, is another. He is widely regarded as having high ethical standards and a sense of fairplay.
Companies should form Ethics Committees on the lines of audit and renumeration committees. The Code should be legally required for public companies and all employees should read and re-sign the Code every year.
Prominent Business Schools should lead the way, particularly in this current climate. It is time for ethics to come back into vogue.
Location: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA USA
Credits and copyright:
Engraving of Bust of Hippocrates by Rubens, 1638, in the public domain, National Library of Medicine, Washington, D.C.
Photo of the New York Stock Exchange licensed by the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Book-Cover Texts.
Photos of The White House and Bank of England in the public domain.
Photos of The Baker Library at Harvard Business School owned by me, taken with knowledge from a public path.
Background music: Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Opp. 55, “Eroica”-Scherzo: Allegro Vivace.
My apologies for the noise while speaking on the steps of The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It is the Boston traffic!,