EBEN or the European Business Ethics Network is the foremost business ethics organisation in Europe with 18 local chapters in 20 countries (one representing Scandinavia) and with individual members from over 40 countries:
Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden & Denmark), Spain, Switzerland, Turkey & the United Kingdom.
EBEN Ireland’s website includes:
- An outline of business ethics thought including how it affects the DECISIONS people in business and society have to take
- Updated LINKS to 100 business ethics websites
- PRESENTATIONS on a number of integrity related crises
- CALENDAR of events open to all: Conferences and events in Ireland and overseas
- COMMENTS on TOPICS such as:
All comments on integrity related issues including suggestions for local events are welcome via
“A healthy attitude is contagious – but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.”
The lines from the famous Irish poem 1916 by Nobel winner WB Yeats may also be apt for Pandemic times:
“Transformed utterly: A terrible beauty is born” and
“Are changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born”
often described as:
“All is changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty is born…”
Even more apt is a far more modern poem published in a more recent Irish newspaper entitled
“Pandemic (A tribute to all frontline workers)”:
Contingency of all contingencies,
where simple human touch becomes lethal
and social distance becomes a virtue
We were once smug in our complacency,
never dreaming that an adversary,
measured in nanometers could so disrupt
Now we watch as foot soldiers, armed and masked
do battle on our behalf while we the home front,
social isolates, count our tedious days
and look to a future changed beyond belief,
when we emerge from cocoons, transformed,
free to number and mourn our countless dead.
The actor Rowan Atkinson wrote a speech some years ago, perhaps on a par with his “father of the bride” speech, given by a fictitious Member of Parliament about “uncertainty”, which may be apt to adapt or paraphrase:
“The future is uncertain.
What will happen is uncertain.
How we react will be uncertain.
How other people cope will be uncertain.
What the outcome will be is uncertain.
When we know what the outcome will be is uncertain.
Indeed it could be said there is certainly a certain degree of
And of that we can be quite …..
In times of uncertainty, one thing is certain: kindness always prevails over all forms of unkindness.
As challenging times can bring out the best in the best and the worst in the worst, perhaps during life’s difficulties the advice of the Dalai Lama may be most apt:
In times of crisis everyone needs to show a great deal of consideration for the interests and needs of others, as well as being careful ourselves, but nevertheless striving to be more selfless and less self-centred.
With Abraham Lincoln saying:
“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be”
it is within the power of our own minds whether we choose to be happy or not, almost irrespective of the situation.
At the end of the day what does worrying about something beyond our control achieve? Nada!
Is it things – or other people – which contribute to our greatest happiness?
And how we decide to behave towards them which contributes not just to their happiness, but our own too?
Surely the easiest way to bring ourselves happiness, no matter the circumstances and our own “mood”, is to say or do something which brings a smile to the face of another person?
Maybe the corollary is also true?
Perhaps the easiest way to bring ourselves unhappiness, no matter the circumstances and our own “mood”, is to say or do something which removes a smile from the face of another person? So why bother doing that?
Maybe some people are just naturally more pessimistic by nature – who make difficulties of their opportunities?
So perhaps if we are mindful of both our own wellbeing and that of others, we should instead only choose to associate with optimists – those who make opportunities from their difficulties??!!
Martin EP Seligman, professor of psychology, past president of the American Psychological Association and one of the pioneers of the uplifting field of research entitled “Positive Psychology”, says in his wonderful book “Authentic Happiness”:
“Optimistic people tend to interpret their troubles as transient, controllable and specific to one situation.
Pessimistic people, in contrast, believe that their troubles last forever, undermine everything that they do and are uncontrollable”.
Irrespective of our personal demeanour or “dispositional attribution”, do we not ALL have a responsibility to be positive and kind, especially during life’s challenges?
This was well recognised by the Dalai Lama:
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
One of life’s most remarkable lessons, a surprise or even secret to some, is that being kind to someone else can bring us deep happiness too! Indeed what Martin Seligman says about kindness is fascinating:
“The students in one of my classes wondered if happiness comes from the exercise of kindness more readily than it does from having fun. After a heated dispute, we each undertook an assignment for the next class: to engage in one pleasurable activity and one philanthropic activity, and write about both.
The results were life-changing. The afterglow of the “pleasurable”activity (hanging out with friends, or watching a movie, or eating a hot fudge sundae) paled in comparison with the effects of the kind action.
When our philanthropic acts were spontaneous and called upon personal strengths, the whole day went better…
The exercise of kindness is a gratification, in contrast to a pleasure. As a gratification, it calls on your strengths to rise to an occasion and meet a challenge.
Kindness is not accompanied by a separate stream of positive emotion like joy; rather it consists in total engagement and in the loss of self-consciousness. Time stops.
One of the business students volunteered that he had come to the University of Pennsylvania to learn how to make a lot of money in order to be happy, but that he was floored to find that he liked helping other people more than spending his money shopping.” (p9)
“The virtue of humanity can be achieved by kindness, philanthropy,the capacity to love and be loved, sacrifice or compassion.
The virtue of temperance can be exhibited by modesty and humility,disciplined self-control or prudence and caution.” (p133)
“Strengths, such as integrity, valour, originality and kindness, are not the same thing as talents…[though] can be built on even frail foundations, and I believe that with enough practice, persistence, good teaching and dedication, they can take root and flourish.” (p134)
from Martin EP Seligman, “Authentic Happiness”
Simon & Schuster, 2002
This may be come as a shock for some of life’s “TAKERS” – “more interested in themselves than others” – although Seligman’s words could perhaps have been written by many of life’s “GIVERS” – “those more interested in others (as much or even more) than themselves”.
Which people of “INTEGRITY”, like a maths integer – whole, undivided people – well appreciate, as did Mahatma Gandhi:
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do
are in harmony.”
So perhaps we should be more aware of the simple but powerful advice offered by comedian Groucho Marx, who brought happiness to many:
“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today.
I can choose which it shall be.
Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet.
I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”
We also need to keep our sense of humour and remain positive, be tactful and very careful with our use of words in the moment, as these clips from the multi-BAFTA winning BBC sit-com “Yes Minister” and then “Yes Prime Minister” suggest the power of appropriate and well-chosen words.
The government minister has rings run around him by the verbal prowess of his most senior public servants, bamboozling him into agreement with what they want by way of using a preponderance of many sentences of profusely preposterous, elaborately ebullient, excessively extravagant and exuberantly luxuriant looooooong words, when only a few may have been as apt, but less uproariously hilarious and certainly less seriously serious, of that we can be quite… sure:
LEADERSHIP: GIVERS OR TAKERS?
When leaders respect other people, treat them fairly and behave selflessly with integrity, showing a genuine interest in everyone else involved, sometimes referred to as “stakeholders”, the critical quality of trust is more likely to be developed, enhanced and remain healthy.
But when their focus is primarily and innately on themselves, there may well always be trouble around the corner, with trust and even reputation amongst the many casualties of their disrespect and resulting mis-management, erroneously described as their “leadership” of businesses, organisations and even nations.
In addition to their other leadership qualities, the personality of leaders can contribute significantly to the manner by which they lead, the example they set and in due course the culture of the entity or organisation they guide, with a concomitant effect or impact on the lives of those they have a responsibility to lead – and serve. Not all leaders though perceive serving others to be their role and job description…
A great deal of valuable business ethics research considers how people OUGHT to behave and this inspires wonderful debate on many wide ranging facets of life in both organisations and throughout society, including the role which business OUGHT to play in society.
Also important is consideration WHY people behave as they can do in business and indeed in society, some in particular who inspire people to produce their best and others who bring out the worst attributes in their coworkers, thriving on being ultra-competitive and augmenting highly combative corporate cultures.
John Milton observed in ‘Paradise Lost’ in 1667:
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
Why do some leaders make great efforts to make a heaven of hell?
While others innately cannot seem to prevent themselves from making a hell of what (without them) might be closer to heaven?
Why do some leaders appear more conscientious than others and inculcate admirable standards of integrity amongst their colleagues, while for others “winning at all costs” dominates proceedings throughout their organisation?
Should we be better considering the “Dispositional Attribution of Corporate Executives”: their personal traits and internal characteristics as opposed to the situational or external influences which arise from environment or culture?
A cornerstone assumption of business ethics research may be that all corporate decision makers are actually capable of reasoning morally. But is this a valid assumption and what might the implications be for both business leadership and business ethics research if it transpires not to be?
For some in society, is self-interest a conscious decision… or a state of mind?
Might some leaders lack a conscience?
Might some leaders not just behave in a ruthless manner… but also be fundamentally ruthless?
With dictionaries associating “ruth” with “sympathy”, does this suggest “ruth-less” people may be innately incapable of being sympathetic to others, especially those who seem to derive a peculiar pleasure making other people feel uncomfortable, belittled, disrespected and maybe even humiliated? For what purpose and to what avail?
Surely such behaviour is counterproductive and unlikely to contribute to the mutual respect required for the successful and trusting “team-building” expected of managers and leaders?
Yet somehow global society, generation after generation, seems to choose or elect those to senior managerial roles who seem to thrive more on conflict than cooperation, disharmony than harmony, practice deceit over transparency and secrecy over open communication, exclusion of coworkers over inclusion, et al, all quite the opposite behaviour expected of leaders of business and society.
How could this be? And what can we do to improve matters and learn from our many prior mistakes in this regard?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary, for instance, defines “ruth” as both “compassion for the misery of another” and “sorrow for one’s own faults”, which it also associates with “remorse”. Surely all leaders are capable of experiencing and expressing remorse and of learning from their mistakes, thus striving not to repeat them?
That dictionary also describes “ruthless” as “having no pity” which it also associates with “merciless” and “cruel”. Surely these are not traits which could or should be associated with “successful” management and leadership of global society’s organisations?
It also defines “empathy” as “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner” as well as “the capacity for this”.
Surely all managers and leaders of other people – possess empathy in abundance?
And be more capable of prioritising the interests of those they are chosen to lead over their own?
Those who consider and select people for senior positions throughout not only business but also wider society perhaps need to better associate selfish, difficult, proud, arrogant, challenging, disagreeable, discouraging, fearful, intimidatory and perhaps contrary traits with irresponsible, illegitimate and self-centred leadership and deny such negative, regressive and destructive people the power they crave, but can inevitably only misuse and abuse…
…while also becoming more appreciative of more selfless, co-operative, modest and agreeable attributes, including genuine kindness, interest in other people and bona fide charisma, while increasingly associating such positive, progressive and constructive traits with a greater likelihood of such people providing responsible, legitimate and ultimately constructive leadership, with integrity.
What do we need most in the managers and leaders of global society’s entities and organisations, responsible for the interests and needs of many other people?
Ruth-less-ness or Ruth-full-ness?
CLIMATE JUSTICE – LEADERSHIP WITH INTEGRITY
On 11th August 2017 EBENI made a submission to Ireland’s “Citizens’ Assembly” on how to make Ireland a world leader in tackling climate change. This 2 page submission entitled “Climate Justice, Integrity and Leadership – There Is No Right Way To Do A Wrong Thing” availed of business ethics principles especially those associated with innovative leadership with integrity.
It can be downloaded from both the Citizens’ Assembly website and from here:
VALUES COCKPITS – CORPORATE VALUES
Friedrich Glauner, entrepreneur and academic, tackles the critically important area of corporate cultures and how individual and corporate values can be combined and guided to produce win-win-win situations as a matter of course as an organisation interacts with both its own people and society.
The depth of personal values and integrity of an organisation’s dominant individuals contributes significantly to the prevailing level of group values and integrity, with some cultures promoting and facilitating and others hindering and prohibiting the personal integrity of their people coming to the fore. Intolerance of low values by leaders of high personal integrity ensures wrongdoing is not condoned or repeated, while the acceptance of low values by lesser leaders ensures instances are permitted and hence more likely to be repeated by the culture prevalent within their organisation.
Many authors propose that an organisation change its culture. Many advocate a return to quite noble and worthy values. Many recommend that integrity be more prevalent amongst leaders of business, organisations and indeed society. All these authors should be applauded for doing so. Society needs such people to take a critical look at “the way things are done” and recommend that we all do better. But how many authors also provide highly practical guidance how this can be achieved?
Many leaders and managers know what they should be doing but don’t know how to do it. They read about values. They know they are important. They have their own values. But they may not know how these can be inculcated in the minds of everyone who works for their organisation. Who can they turn to for guidance?
One seldom sees practical advice on HOW strong values can be automatically practiced on a daily basis by all concerned. Implementing poses a far greater challenge than advocating more virtuous behaviour. That is what makes Friedrich Glauner’s approach to this remarkable book so refreshing. Too few people plying their trade in academic circles have already also done so in industry or in commercial organisations before they switched their attention to teaching and researching in lieu of managing and leading.
The tool of the Values Cockpit developed by Friedrich Glauner has the potential to become the tool of choice for solving this practical task of aligning corporate values towards a conduct of business which will excel not only in financial terms but also result in a dynamic state of organizational excellence whereby corporate policies and practices inspire the crew and other “stakeholders” to produce their best and inculcate a culture of doing the right thing, thereby securing what Glauner calls the basis of true corporate future viability.
The EBEN international conferences planned prior to Covid were:
EBEN 33rd Annual Conference
June 23-26 2020, Saint Petersburg:
“In Search of Excellence: Self-Regulation of Market Ethics”
EBEN Research Conference
September 28-29 2020, Frankfurt am Main:
The most recent local event we were supportive of was:
26th International Vincentian Business Ethics Conference (IVBEC) 2019
ETHICS & CAPITALISM
October 24th to October 26th, 2019
Dublin City University, All Hallows Campus, Ireland
EBENI Chair Julian Clarke gave a presentation entitled
“The Leadership Fallacy: The Challenge Posed by Self-Centred Leaders”
at which he proposed the following definition of a “Disordered Leader”:
“Someone trusted with supervisory, managerial or leadership responsibilities,
who due to what may be a personality or mental disorder(s),
may be incapable of responsible management or leadership,
including prioritising the interests of stakeholders other than themselves,
especially when these impede satisfying their self-interest.”
The most recent EBEN international conferences were:
EBEN Research Conference September 2019 Roskilde, Denmark:
“Sustainable Development Goals”
EBEN Annual Conference June 2019 Valencia, Spain:
“The enterprise at the service of society in the 21st century
EBEN Research Conference September 2018 Vienna, Austria:
“Beyond Corruption – Fraudulent Behavior in and of Corporations”
Previous local events we were supportive of included appropriately:
BECOMING AN ETHICAL LEADER
A six-module programme during 2017 and 2018
Lismullin Conference Centre near Navan, County Meath, Ireland
40 minutes from Dublin
Can an organisation’s culture be changed?
This stand alone event featuring Enrique Aznar and Connor Flanagan was held at Lismullin on Friday 1st June is also 5th of a 6 model programme, further details below.
Having heard Enrique, with a background in Values Transformation and Corporate Governance in large well-known firms, speaking and leading such events a number of times since his first involvement in 2013, this partly case study led event is highly recommended.
Details are at:
Nearly 50 such one day events have been held since their inception in 2006. Having been involved from the outset and attended most of these, often featuring professors from leading international business schools, these highly interactive one day events have been of a consistently high ‘MBA’ standard featuring ample opportunity for discussion not only during main and breakout sessions but also at lunch and dinner, organised by their catering school!
The setting is superb with 5 star overnight accommodation for those travelling some distance and their own grounds permitting both peaceful reflection and hearty discussions with business people from many positions and sectors.
No need to travel overseas for events of this quality! Booking at +3531 676 0731.
Anyone who can resist the homemade shortbread biscuits deserves to be applauded by Oscar Wilde who appropriately remarked for an integrity related event: “I can resist everything – except temptation”. Participants are requested NOT to use a weighing scales before or after the event!! Lismullin also features a Catering School so the quality of everything culinary matches that of the business discussion and debate!
Previous EBEN international events inckluded:
EBEN Annual Conference 2018
Tilburg, the Netherlands
27-29 June 2018
“Reinventing Capitalism – Business Ethics and its contribution to the “Doux Commmerce“
Previous events we have been supportive of include:
BECOMING AN ETHICAL LEADER
A six-module programme during 2017 and 2018
Lismullin Conference Centre near Navan, County Meath, Ireland
40 minutes from Dublin
Module 4 was on Friday 9th March 2018
Character, Culture and Rules
This event featured Ricardo Calleja and Celine Maguire discussed leadership talents and the importance of character of leaders and their contribution to developing an admirable corporate culture.
Module 3 was on Friday 29 September 2017
Real leadership – Changing both hearts and minds
This event was led by Dr Richard Keegan, Manager of the Competitiveness Department at Enterprise Ireland, and an international specialist in Lean/World Class Business, Benchmarking and Sustainability, advising major companies across Europe. He is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Business School at Trinity College Dublin.
Module 2 was on Friday 26 May 2017:
Are there truly ethical companies with social goals? Yes, let’s investigate one of them!
Enrique Aznar is Group Chief Values & Culture Transformation Officer with VimpelCom at their headquarters in Amsterdam. It is the world’s 6th largest mobile network operator by subscribers (214 million) with over 60,000 employees and annual revenues of $23bn, and is listed as an ADS on the New York Stock Exchange.
Module 1 was on Friday 10 March 2017:
Developing leadership in the workplace and beyond: A whole-person approach
Dr Michelle Hammond teaches organisational behaviour and work psychology at the University of Limerick, and earned her PhD at Pennsylvania State University. She has co-authored an award-winning book on leader development, published widely in academic journals, and is a registered psychologist in Ireland.
Dr Rachel Clapp-Smith has coached managers enrolled in the EMBA at Purdue University Northwest and found that coaching can benefit managers at any stage of their career.
Case study: Conor the Inspired – Making Sense of Leadership Challenges
The 30th EBEN Annual Conference Finland 14-16 June 2017 was on “Searching for Sustainability in Future Working Life”
Place: Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics, Finland
The 2017 EBEN Annual Conference took place June 14-16, at the University of Jyväskylä School of Business and Economics, JSBE (Finland), and it was preceded by a one-day workshop for doctoral students on June 13.
- The first EBEN Ireland event of 2015/16 was LEADERSHIP & DECISION-MAKING and ENTREPRENEURSHIP & VALUES held on Friday 12th JUNE 2015 in association with the Lismullin Conference Centre near Navan in Co Meath (30 minutes from Dublin City centre) in conjunction with the Lismullin Leadership Forum.
- This was the first of a series on IMPROVING YOUR LEADERSHIP SKILLS, A SIX-MODULE COURSE SPREAD OVER TWO YEARS:
Module 1 — Friday 12th June: Ethical leadership (Enrique Aznar)
Module 2 — Friday 25th September: Social entrepreneurship for leaders (Antonino Vaccaro)
Module 3 — Friday 20th November: Developing leaders at all levels in an organisation (Dermot Duff)
Module 4 — Friday 4th March: Dealing with difficult people and transforming them (Enrique Aznar)
Module 5 — Friday 27th May: Creating a better working environment and work-family balance (Matt Kavanagh)
Module 6 — Friday 23rd September: A leader’s framework for decision-making (Antonino Vaccaro)
Enrique Aznar led a discussion on LEADERSHIP AND DECISION-MAKING by way of a case study focusing on a company selling sophisticated electronic measuring equipment which entered the defence industry. It adopted a policy of treating military personnel generously with expenses. Later, when the Defence Department was about to cut its budget, a senior officer offered a significant project, but only in return for a hefty “commission” How should the company deal with this?
Enrique Aznar is Group Chief Compliance Officer with VimpelCom, the world’s 6th largest mobile network operator by subscribers (214 million) with over 60,000 employees and annual revenues of $23bn. It is listed as an ADS on the New York Stock Exchange.
Before joining VimpelCom, Enrique was Chief Integrity Officer with Millicom International Cellular, a telecommunications group operating in Latin America and Africa. Earlier, he was Nokia Siemens Networks’ Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, based in Finland. From 2005 to 2009 he was Deputy General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer, Europe, Middle East and Africa for Tyco International. Earlier, he worked with Dell Inc, Freshfields, PwC and Arthur Andersen. A qualified lawyer in Spain, England and Wales, he earned an MA in International & Comparative Business Law in London in 1993, and completed a Business Management Programme at IESE Business School in 2002.
Brian Keegan discussed ENTREPRENEURSHIP & VALUES. Brian founded 360 Group (http://360-group.com) in London in 1998 which grew to become an international outsourcing consultancy, providing payroll, employment, immigration and compliance services to global companies engaging contract workers worldwide, with offices in London, Dublin and Bangalore. Earlier he worked in London for GAN, a French insurance company, spent a year in New York, and also a short stint in the family business in Ireland. He is the founding President of Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO) Ireland, a voluntary organisation run by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs with over 10,000 members globally.
Educated in Newbridge, County Kildare, he completed the Entrepreneurial Masters Programme (EMP) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is married to Kerry, who is also involved in 360 Group, and they have four children. In his spare time, he tries to keep up with his children on horseback.
- The previous EBEN Ireland event was on LEADERSHIP AND DECISION-MAKING and ETHICAL CHALLENGES IN ADVERTISING on Friday 17th April 2015 featuring Carlos Arbesú and Ed McDonald.
- Carlos Arbesú divides his time between Madrid, Santiago de Chile and Lima. He is best known as a family business specialist and has established Family Business Associations in Spain, Chile and Peru. Carlos led a Harvard Business School case study whereby a CEO grapples with leading and managing changes in strategy, governance, board composition and ownership issues as he takes a family business into the next generation.
- Ed McDonald in addition to a variety of roles in industry has been Chief Executive of both the Association of Advertisers in Ireland and the Marketing Institute of Ireland, as well as a Director of the Advertising Standards Authority. Ed led a discussion on Ethical Challenges Related to the Advertising Message and challenged whether Business Leaders should provide greater guidance?
- Prior to that TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP and ETHICAL LEADERSHIP opportunities in the area of Data Protection was on 21st November 2014. For the first time EBEN Ireland’s 2014 Conference was held at the Lismullin Conference Centre and consisted of two related events on the subject of TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP. The first on Friday 21st November was for business executives while the similar event on Saturday 22nd was for those at an earlier stage of their career or students, generally mid 20s to mid 30s.
Becoming a transformational leader Prof Dermot Duff, a specialist in Operations Management & Strategy from Trinity College Dublin Business School discussed how leaders can become ‘transformational’. People will follow a person who inspires them. By their actions and attitudes, transformational leaders show others how to behave. They motivate, enthuse, rally, listen and energise those who work with them to keep the right focus on the shared vision. Is this the kind of leader you strive to be?
Data Protection — ‘Mere’ compliance or an opportunity for ethical leadership?Hugh Jones, Cofounder and Managing Partner, Sytorus, will spend s the latter half of the afternoon session discussing how data protection offers an opportunity for ethical leadership. Data protection is about the fundamental right to privacy. Anyone can access and correct data about themselves. Those who keep data have to comply with recent legislation. Companies advertising for jobs often reject applications on the basis of a quick search of social networking sites. What should business leaders do?
Further details are provided under the Conferences section of this website.
- An international corporate integrity conference was held in Dublin – the 21st Vincentian Business Ethics Conferencefrom 29 October – 1 November 1st 2014. The theme for ‘IVBEC 2014’ was ‘The Impact of Business Ethics on Public Life’
Normally rotated annually between three US universities – DePaul in Chicago, St Johns in New York and Niagara near Buffalo and Toronto – this was the first time this significant event was held outside the USA.
Further details are at:
It was held in the serene surroundings of All Hallows College Dublin which proved to be such a superb venue for ‘Corporate Conscience’ and ‘Church Ethics & Leadership’ which EBENI hosted in November 2013.
The question addressed then was CAN A CORPORATION HAVE A CONSCIENCE?
“It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience. But a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience.”
HENRY DAVID THOREAU 1817-1862
‘CORPORATE CONSCIENCE’ was the title of EBEN Ireland’s 2013 Conference held in Dublin at All Hallows College, Drumcondra (near Tolka Park football ground and not far from the Croke Park stadium). It was a two-day event on Tuesday 19th and Wednesday 20th November 2013.
EBEN Ireland also hosted an ACADEMICS ROUNDTABLE on the Wednesday evening after the main event which was open to ALL Academics throughout Ireland with an interest in ethics related matters and an opportunity to meet their senior US and European colleagues. Prof Gene Laczniak from Marquette University, Milwaukee, USA asked “What role do business schools play in shaping ethical & unethical behaviour?”
Prior to ‘CORPORATE CONSCIENCE’, on Monday 18th November EBENI and All Hallows also hosted a separate event – a ‘CHURCH ETHICS & LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP’. This featured some of the international experts from the subsequent two days as well as some key locals with a particular interest or specialism in Church Leadership with integrity to the forefront.
As well as some of our US visitors including Prof Ron Duska, immediate past President of the US Society of Business Ethics, local contributors included:
- Prof David Smith (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland),
- Dr John Murray (Mater Dei Institute of Education),
- Rev Michael Shortall (St Patrick’s College, Maynooth)
‘CORPORATE CONSCIENCE’ featured a wide variety of topics in the field of organisational and corporate integrity including whether a corporation can indeed have a conscience, the role of professionals as conscience keepers, and what Adam Smith, Aristotle and others have had to say on the matter. There were also discussions on Decision Making, Leadership, Legal Systems, fairplay in third world employment, ethical fashion, micr0-banking, poverty eradication and the role of corporations in areas such as these – real world Corporate Social Responsibility.
An exceptional range of speakers from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities addressed these and other topics including:
– Prof Niamh Brennan (Smurfit Business School / University College Dublin)
– Prof Mary Keating (Trinity College Dublin Business School)
– Prof Shane Kilcommins (University College Cork Faculty of Law)
– Dr John Considine (University College Cork Faculty of Economics & All Ireland Hurling winner!)
– John Waters (The Irish Times)
– Gabriel D’Arcy (CEO Bord na Mona / Ireland / formerly Kerry Foods & Irish Army)
– William Montgomery (CEO TEN Leadership Consultancy / UK / former Head of Strategic Change at Lloyds TSB)
– Kate Nolan & Rosie O’Reilly (Re-Dress & Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland) http://re-dress.ie/reasons-to-re-dress/
– Seán McDonagh – Climate Change
– Prof Patricia Werhane (De Paul / Chicago USA / Founder of ‘Business Ethics Quarterly’; Author of many books, most recently Obstacles to Ethical Decision-Making and Alleviating Poverty Through Profitable Partnerships which she discussed in Dublin including her “Big Questions” documentary series series for WNIT that examines sustainable poverty alleviation projects around the world notably Bangladesh, Haiti, Ghana and Tanzania.
– Prof Tobias Gossling (Tilburg School of Social & Behavioural Sciences/ Netherlands / Corporate Social Responsibility author / EBEN Board)
– Prof Bob Chandler (University of Central Florida / Orlando USA / Crisis Communications specialist)
– Graham Burke (Director EthicsPro / CPA / Ireland / Experience in Anonymous Reporting Systems)
– Prof Chris Cowton (Dean University of Huddersfield Business School / UK / Editor BEER: Business Ethics a European Review)
– Prof Björn Fasterling (EDHEC Business School / Law Professor / EBEN France)
– Prof Gene Laczniak (Marquette / Milwaukee USA / CoAuthor of ‘Marketing Ethics’)
– Prof Ron Duska (Philadelphia USA / President US Society of Business Ethics)
– Prof Scott Vitell (Mississippi USA / Marketing Specialist / CoAuthor of the ‘Hunt & Vitell’ Marketing Decisions Framework available under Decisions on this website!)
– Prof Ken Kury (St Josephs / Philadelphia USA / Family Business Professor)
For a flavour of some of the discussions, see this interesting article of the same title from Australia. Although written in the mid 1990s, what has changed since?
which opens with:
“Who keeps the conscience of a corporation? Is it the role of the Board, senior management, the whole company (or all of the above)? Can a corporation have a conscience? After all, its identity as a ‘person’ is just a legal fiction. Surely, it is only real people that might be said to have the capacity to respond to the still, quiet voice of conscience. And, even if a corporation could have a conscience, would this be a good thing? Perhaps it would be an unwarranted distraction from the prime task of creating wealth for shareholders?
These are but a few of the questions that arise, from time to time, in the field of business ethics. Others are of more immediate concern. For example, many in business ask:
- Can we afford the cost of making this product safe?
- Can we afford to admit negligence even though we know that we did the wrong thing?
- Can we afford to let the company’s accounts show the real value of our assets?
- Can we afford to refuse to carry out a client’s instructions even when, in all good conscience, we believe to follow them would harm the community?
- Can we afford to resist paying bribes in order to secure a contract in a difficult overseas market?
- Can we afford to resist taking advantage of an unintended loop-hole in the law or a contract?
Both types of question are common in the field of business ethics. Some people wish that they would go away. Their reasons vary. It may be that the questions are too difficult to answer. It may be that they trespass on areas that people try to reserve as ‘private’ or ‘personal’. Then again, explicit ethical questions may be troubling because they make the invisible foundations of a corporate culture all too visible. It’s sometime surprising to note how many people prefer uncritically to follow patterns laid down in the past. If you ask why something happens the way it does, then the answer comes back, “That’s just the way we do things around here”……..
This website will feature some of the content from Corporate Conscience in the near future.
Details of some of our prior events:
THE INAUGURAL NATIONAL GOVERNANCE, ETHICS AND COMPLIANCE FORUM was held on May 30th 2012 at Croke Park stadium, Dublin, with iQuest, ACOI, BCI, GPTW and TI.
UNLOCKING THE SECRETS OF GOOD GOVERNANCE was held on Wednesday May 30th 2012 at Croke Park stadium, Dublin, in a first ever collaboration between EBEN Ireland, iQuest, Association of Compliance Officers, Business in the Community, Great Place to Work and Transparency International.
Sessions included good governance, ethics and integrity, compliance, social responsibility, risk management, fraud and whistleblowing. Unlike DOES INTEGRITY MATTER? which featured speakers from over 30 countries, this inaugural ‘national’ forum mainly consisted of Irish speakers with a few guests from the UK and USA. It also included a variety of case studies featuring Irish based international organisations.
The previous year’s event DOES INTEGRITY MATTER? was held June 8-10 2011 at Chartered Accountants House, Pearse Street, Dublin 2. This was the annual EBEN Research Conference which was hosted by EBEN Ireland, Trinity College Dublin Business School and Chartered Accountants Ireland, who have been organising business ethics events since 2003 when they hosted BUILDING INTEGRITY IN BUSINESS at Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse.
There were 80 speakers from over 30 countries and four continents. Further details including videos of some of the sessions are at ‘Conference 2011’.
Many of the sessions are also summarised in the Conference Report available for download.
23rd LISMULLIN LEADERSHIP FORUM: Friday 20th September 2013 Ireland
On Friday 20th September 2013 EBENI Chair Julian Clarke hosted a discussion on TRUST RESTORATION at the Lismullin Leadership Forum near Navan, half an hour from Dublin.
Moscow based Enrique Aznar hosted a case study led discussion on Enron’s Jeffrey Skilling, Bernie Madoff and other ‘Smartest Guys in the Room’ involved with serious fraud as well as three mini cases on dealing with difficult people entitled “how managers, teams and corporations can drive you crazy”.
Enrique Aznar is Group Chief Compliance Officer with VimpelCom, the world’s 6th largest mobile network operator by subscribers (214 million) with over 60,000 employees and annual revenues of $23bn. It is listed as an ADS on the New York Stock Exchange. Enrique’s previous positions included Millicom International Cellular, Nokia Siemens Networks’ Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, Deputy General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer EMEA for Tyco International. Earlier, he worked with Dell Inc, Freshfields, PwC and Arthur Andersen.
We have attended most of these tri-annual events and they have been of a consistently high quality, opening up intriguing discussions between business people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Highly recommended and beats travelling to an overseas event to experience this calibre of discussion. For many of you this will be just down the road!
Anyone wishing to attend future Lismullin events can contact organiser Paul Harman on firstname.lastname@example.org or +35386 859 6052.
DOES INTEGRITY MATTER? presented an opportunity to both hear and engage with experts from all around the world and we plan to offer similar opportunities to discuss integrity related matters, across business and society. All comments, suggestions and ideas are welcome.
We can only achieve our goals if YOU participate. Ireland as a nation has suffered as a result of Leadership and Integrity failings associated with a small minority so this is a key area for discussion and improvement.
INTEGRITY can be brought to the fore both in Ireland and overseas with YOUR attendance at events, participation and ongoing support! ALL SUGGESTIONS WILL BE APPRECIATED including ideas for future events.
We are a membership based organisation and warmly welcome new members.
For those of you would like to join EBENI and support our efforts to promote integrity throughout Irish and international business and society, we would be delighted to hear from you or email us at email@example.com