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Could the political upheavals and social tensions recently in the headlines provide the impetus for people to work for the common good? Both Prime Minister Theresa May and President Donald Trump have spoken about inequality and the need to reach out to the disadvantaged. Several other recent factors also suggest that now may be the time for greater ethical focus in business.
First, the 2008 financial crisis, from which we are only just recovering, has discredited the “greed is good” philosophy exemplified by the 1987 movie Wall Street. Secondly, globalization, largely driven by a search for profit, is now being questioned in the West – never mind it helped raise millions of Chinese out of poverty. Thirdly, there is now an understanding that corporate responsibility and sustainable business practices are good for the bottom line as well as for the environment and society. And finally, research into the attitudes of the millennial generation, soon to dominate the workforce, consistently reveals a desire to do social good and find meaning and purpose in work.
If nothing else, in a highly-polarized society where the very security and peace of mind of the ‘haves’ is under threat, it is in everyone’s interest to consider the ‘have nots’ and to work for a fairer distribution of economic wealth and opportunities.
UBC Sauder School of Business is ahead of the game in this area, having established The Peter P. Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics, in 2015, with the aim of creating a leading international voice in the application of ethical perspectives in business. Peter Dhillon a successful businessman and philanthropist makes a simple statement, that says it all when it comes to being an ethical business leader:
“It’s not all about profits and losses. Ask yourself is that the right thing to do.”
The Centre’s goal is to transform both the experience of students, our future business leaders, and the current conversation around ethics in the business and policy community. It provides a focus to UBC Sauder School of Business’s diverse approaches to advancing business ethics and values-driven business practices around the world through:
Academic programming in ethics and values-based business across the entire school - from undergraduate and graduate curriculum to executive education.
Outreach and engagement with the business community and public to advance discussion and sharing of best practices related to ethics and values.
Supporting student initiatives at UBC Sauder School of Business connected to sustainability, social enterprise, responsible investing, philanthropy and other values-based activities.
Coordinating scholarly research that investigates and influences ethical practices across business disciplines.
As well as social good, the need for greater ethical focus in business is also very much about the corporate good. Pressure on companies to address ethical issues comes from many sources; from regulators, investors, employees, impacted communities, but also from customers - the stakeholders most connected to the bottom line. Thanks to social media, people are better informed about which companies are truly ethical, authentic and aligned to their own values and people are increasingly choosing companies they can trust.
Many business leaders get it. Initiatives such as the Peter P. Dhillon Centre help them frame their thinking and provide tools they can use to develop ethical business culture in their organizations.
“A lot of business leaders are really good people and each and everyday they are faced with very complex issues. It is my belief that the centre will provide the tools that these leaders need to make ethical decisions. That's my belief and where I want to make a meaningful impact." Peter Dhillon
Canada’s UBC Sauder Executive Education is located in the heart of Vancouver’s business district, known for its strong Pacific Rim connections, vibrant multiculturalism and spectacular natural environment surrounded by ocean and mountains.
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