Thinking Ethics was a project launched in Geneva to foster the debate about ethics. A few friends, fed up with only reading about abuses in the media, decided to hold a forward-looking seminar on five subjects: ethics and performance, ethics and knowledge, ethics and consciousness, ethics and disobedience and ethics in real time. If moral has to do with right and wrong, then ethics is its application in society. We believe that people need to talk about the subject to determine the level of ethics they want. The book Thinking Ethics, a result of the seminar, is to start the discussion. This blog is a contribution to the conversation. :
IMD, the Swiss international business school, and the World Wildlife Fund have just announced a partnership to launch the best in class sustainability program for business leaders. One Planet Leaders, the name of this innovative training program for driving sustainability into the core of business, is a series of three 3-day modules.
The learning will focus on developing a winning business case and robust strategy for change, leading to sustainable practices while delivering profit.
There was a study done in the UK a few years ago (London Business School) that showed that students who chose to do an MBA were less ethical than other students. This worried the Business School deans because they did not know if the less ethical students chose to do an MBA, or if something in the curriculum made them less ethical.
There is a great resource for teachers and researchers in the on-line library at www.globethics.net. They have over 400'000 articles and books, research papers, case studies and teaching materials in applied ethics. And their scrolling daily ethics news from around the world is pretty neat too.
Harvard has opened one of their most popular college courses Justice, led by Professor Michael Sandel to the web. Sandel challenges the audience on difficult moral dilemmas and asks "What is the right thing to do?". Sure to be thought provoking.
Usually in a downturn of the economy businesses get rid of all the "nice to have" programs and it was generally feared that social responsibility was going to take a back seat to survival.
Not so with the up and coming generation. Across America the best business schools are seeing an explosion of interest in ethics courses. The students have initiated public commitments in the form of volontary student-led pledges called honor codes or the M.B.A. oath where they vow to serve the greater good. They will take the high paid jobs - but they will change them from the inside. More details in the article from the New York Times.
A few years ago I saw a report (I think from London Business School, but can't find it again) on the comparison of students from Business Schools versus universities specializing in the humanities. The results showed in a statistically significant manner that the students from the Business Schools were less ethical than their fellow students from universities.
This was a worrying development for the deans of the Business Schools. Because it could mean etiher that less ethical persons chose to study Business, or that something in the curriculum made the students less ethical.
Since then the deans have been playing with different approaches to make sure that all students get exposure to ethics training. From making it mandatory to take an initial 2 week course on ethics, to spreading ethic case studies in all subjects. And yet the the results are still not good. An article in Ethical Corporation by Chandran Nair entitled "Business Schools are failing society" proposes some reforms that help the schools to produce more ethical graduates.
MBA programs are leaning towards social enterprise. Apparently 54% of US business schools require a course in Corporate Social Responsibility, up from 34% in 2001. Columbia University has a Social Enterprise Board composed of professors and students that is looking into including CSR in all areas of the curriculum. Article in Forbes.com
Speaking about performance enhancement... there is a concern about performance enhancement in academia - both from the student side - do better on tests, and from the professor side - work harder for scientific recognition - a very competitive area.
Most people would agree that to give memory enhancement drugs to help sick or elderly people is fine - but the objective was not to use them on healthy people to improve their performance. As we move into an "on demand" society, some people do not see why we cannot have self-improvement on demand. Especially if the means to do so are readily available. Somehow the relationship between struggle to improve and building of character is getting lost. Good article on the subject with lots of links here. Education is about learning, and should not be about performance. As we are going to have to retrain continuously and move into lifelong learning, it will not be about passing one test or checking a box, but really turning the journey into the end.