CAN A CORPORATION HAVE A CONSCIENCE? November 19/20 in Dublin
“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’ will be
the title of EBEN Ireland’s 2013 Conference to be held in Dublin at All Hallows College, Drumcondra (near Tolka Park football ground and not far from the Croke Park stadium). It will be a two-day event on Tuesday 19th and Wednesday 20th November 2013.
On Wednesday evening EBEN Ireland will host an ‘ACADEMIC CLUB’ discussion on topics including:
“What role do business schools play in shaping ethical/unethical behaviour?”
and other academic related matters featuring the opportunity for plenty of dialogue with our experienced European and US visitors, tailored to the needs of our MEMBERS from the wonderful and critically important world of academia.
Panels of our European and American visitors may also briefly talk about their current projects and interests which presents an opportunity for Irish academics to do likewise. The Q & A session will only stop when you have exhausted all your questions and discussions!
Prior to ‘CORPORATE CONSCIENCE’, on Monday 18th November EBENI and All Hallows will host a separate roundtable style event discussing ‘CHURCH ETHICS & LEADERSHIP’. This will feature some of the international experts from the following two days as well as some key locals with a particular interest or specialism in Church Leadership with integrity to the forefront.
‘CORPORATE CONSCIENCE’ will feature 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 will also be discussions on 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 will be discussing 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)
– John Waters (The Irish Times)
– Gabriel D’Arcy (CEO Bord na Mona / Ireland / formerly Kerry Foods & Irish Army)
– Kate Nolan & Rosie O’Reilly (Re-Dress & Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland) http://re-dress.ie/reasons-to-re-dress/
– Bob Lee (Great Place to Work / Ireland)
– Fiona Dunne (ICTU / Ireland / Global Solidarity & Decent Work Programs)
– Seán McDonagh – Climate Change
– Kim Clark (College of Communications / DePaul Chicago / Documentary Film Maker including the “Big Questions” series for WNIT that examines sustainable poverty alleviation projects around the world notably Bangladesh, Haiti, Ghana and Tanzania with her DePaul colleague Pat Werhane, also speaking)
– 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 will discuss in Dublin with Kim Clark, the producer of her “Big Questions” documentary series on poverty eradication)
– 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)
– William Montgomery (CEO TEN Leadership Consultancy / UK / former Head of Strategic Change at Lloyds TSB)
Please put the date of 19th and 20th of the 11th in your diary now! Some of the top speakers in the world are coming to Dublin and ample opportunity will be afforded for discussion amongst speakers and conference attendees!
BOOKINGS at Early Bird prices for both events can be made at:
For those of you from the corporate world who believe our conference fees to be particularly reasonable, feel free to also DONATE to us, a charity reliant on events and donations to support our efforts to promote the benefits of conducting affairs with integrity both in business and throughout society.
For those who are unwaged or in any form of financial difficulty, please email us in great confidence to email@example.com
For a flavour of the likely nature of discussions, see this interesting article of the same title from Australia. Although written in the mid 1990s, has anything 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”……..
If these are some of the issues you p0nder over and you would like to both contribute to the debate and hear some techniques to help satisfactorily resolve such issues, we look forward to seeing you on the 19th and 20th of the 11th!! Do please spread the word amongst colleagues and friends!!
Further details to follow!