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Globethics.net Newsletter No 4/2018

Editorial

Upcoming
events and training

Upcoming opportunities

Library

Publications

Reports/Updates

 

Editorial

Joan Elise DubinskyEthical Custom and Social Purpose

By Joan Elise Dubinsky

It was once said that measuring an organisation's commitment to ethics was like nailing Jell-O to the wall.  Conversations about ethics and integrity were met with disdain. Organisational ethics was described as an oxymoron. Measuring a commitment to ethics was a definitional impossibility. As one of the business ethics pioneers, I recall being met with condescending disbelief when I introduced myself as the first Ethics Officer for the American Red Cross. 
 
The early 1980's were not much different from the 1970's when we think about ethics. One only needs to recall the trenchant observations of the late Professor Milton Friedman, who wrote in the New York Times Magazine of September 13, 1970:
'In a free enterprise, private-property system, a corporate executive is an employee of the owners of the business. He has direct responsibility to his employers. That responsibility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.'(1)
In fact, Professor Friedman's singular focus on shareholders is revealed in what is now called the Friedman Doctrine: 'There is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.' 
 
Nearly 50 years later, ethics in the marketplace and the workplace have come of age. One just does not hear business ethics dismissed as a feeble joke. One cannot read today's newspapers and not see significant ethical questions arise on a daily basis. 
 
Professor Friedman did not dismiss out of hand the connection between the operation of business and ethics. He observed that the duty of the owner of a business is to operate lawfully and within the confines of 'ethical custom'. Businesses cannot operate if they are outside of the 'basic rules of the society'.
 
In 2018, what then do we understand those key words to mean?  Is ethical custom something similar to ethical fitness? Corporate social responsibility? Meeting changing customer expectations? Doing good? Is ethical custom no more than another way to consider the social purpose of an organization? 
 
Just a few months ago, Laurence D. Fink, founder and CEO of the $6 trillion private investment firm BlackRock, wrote an open letter to the CEOs of the companies in which his firm holds investments. He writes compellingly to this group of business leaders to consider the societal implication of their business decisions.
'Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.'(2)
Certainly, both Professor Friedman and Mr. Fink are focused on the decisions made by leaders of public and private companies. Yet, their words and precautions contain messages for all of us who are engaged in organizational ethics. 
 
Ethical custom, as penned by Professor Friedman, may mean exactly the same thing as social purpose, as coined by Larry Fink. Both of these thought leaders probe the ultimate purpose of the institutions that surround us. They ask if there are greater purposes—greater goods—that our institutions should promote. They move from the realm of what institutions must do, into the realm of what institutions ought to do. And that milieu includes law and custom, societal mores and culture, ethics and values. Neither business nor government can operate in a social vacuum. 
 
Our experiences validate that organisations must operate within society. Businesses, governments, educational institutions, non-profit organizations—all of these entities to which we invest tremendous time and commitment—are not apart from society at large. Along with individuals, together we create the societies in which we live. 
 
From the executive suite through all layers of management, interest in operating and serving with integrity is growing. From the highest levels of government and academia, respected and admired leaders are asking themselves and those they lead to recommit to the core moral values around which their institutions revolve. The moral resolve of our institutions matters to each of us, for we are part of those concentric circles of overlapping stakeholders. If we—as stakeholders—care about how our organizations operate within the guidance of ethical custom and law, so should our leaders. Everywhere. 
 
Joan Elise Dubinsky is a member of the Globethics.net Board of Foundation. She is a university lecturer and consultant with nearly 35 years of experience in ethics and compliance. She has led the ethics function in numerous major corporations and international organizations. Most recently she served as the Chief Ethics Officer for the United Nations. She can be reached at rosentretergroup@yahoo.com.
 
(1) Milton Friedman, 'The Social Resposibility of Business is to Increase its Profits', The New York Time Magazine (13 September 1970)
(2) Larry Fink, 'A Sense of Purpose', BlackRock (https://www.blackrock.com/corporate/investor-relations/larry-fink-ceo-letter)
 

upcoming events and training

Globethics.net International Conference - Managing and Teaching Ethics in Higher Education: Policies, Skills and Resources in Switzerland, 4-6 June 2018

Globethics.net International Conference. Managing and Teaching Ethics in Higher Education: Policies,Skills and Resources

The aim of the conference is to embed ethics more deeply into higher education institutions and provide resources for ethics education for teachers and stakeholders in order to build strong institutions and responsible leaders and citizens.

Register by 30 April 2018 to benefit from early bird rates

More information

 

Open registration: Second Semester Webcast Series on Sustainability, Ethics and Action: What Can We Do?

Environmental and sustainability ethics webcast series

Globethics.net in collaboration with CITVN has produced a webcast series on the reading of Pope Francis' environmental encyclical Laudato Si, which has been described as a ‘worldwide wake-up call to help humanity understand the destruction that man is rendering to the environment and his fellow man' ... Read more

 

Events in our Network

What: The Ethics Institute 8th Annual Conference
When: 21 May 2018
Where: Midreand, Gauteng, South Africa
More information click here

What: 6th International Conference on Ethics Education
When: 3-5 October 2018
Where: Stellenbosh, South Africa
More information click here

 

upcoming opportunities

Call for Papers: Globethics.net International Conference. Managing and Teaching Ethics in Higher Education, deadline 30 April 2018

Call for paper: Ethics and Reconcilliation in Poetry

A call for abstracts of academic papers and of workshop concepts has been launched for the Globethics.net International Conference 2018. The deadline for submissions is 30 April 2018 ... Read more

 

Call for papers: 7th World Sustainability Forum in Beijing, 30 April 2018

7th World Sustainability Forum 17-20 September Beijing China

The Centre for International Business Ethics (CIBE), partner of Globethics.net China, is co-organising this year's 7th World Sustainability Forum in September at University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, China. Read more

 

Competition: Best Environment and Sustainability Paper or Video, deadline 1 October 2018

Competition: Best environment and sustainability paper or video
Globethics.net in collaboration with CITVN is organising a competition. Participants are invited to answer the question "Sustainability, Ethics and Action: What Can We Do?" using examples of good practice in the form either of an essay or of a video. Learn more
 

 

Looking for more collaboration opportunities on ethics in higher education?

 

 

LIBRARY

Book of the Month

The European Higher Education Area. Between Critical Reflections and Future Policies by Remus Pricopie, Peter Scott, Jamil Salami, Adrian Curaj and Liviu Matei

The European Higher Education Area: Between Critical Reflections and Future Policies

Offers unique insights regarding the state of affairs of European higher education research and focuses on essential themes in European higher education policies. Presents the most recent research done on the future of the Bologna Process. Bridges the gap between policy and research within the context of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) Read more

 

New Journals

Educação e Pesquisa

Educação e Pesquisa

Educação & Realidade

Educação & Realidade

       
Educar em Revista

Educar em Revista

Ensaio: Avaliação e Políticas Públicas em Educação

Ensaio: Avaliação e Políticas Públicas em Educação

       
Ensaio Pesquisa em Educação em Ciências

Ensaio Pesquisa em Educação em Ciências

História da Educação

História da Educação

       
Psicologia Escolar e Educacional

Psicologia Escolar e Educacional

Revista Brasileira de Educação

Revista Brasileira de Educação

       
Revista Brasileira de Educação Médica

Revista Brasileira de Educação Médica

Revista Brasileira de Estudos Pedagógicos

Revista Brasileira de Estudos Pedagógicos

 

Library Tip

Submit your documents to the Library Submission Collection

Globethics.net Library Submission Collection

Globethics.net Library offers to its registered participants the opportunity to submit their own documents in the library and therefore to make them available to the other participants Discover it now

 

 


Publications

New Publication

Ethics in Higher Education: Religions and Traditions in Nigeria

Ethics in Higher Education: Religions and Traditions in Nigeria

This second of two book volumes on ethics in higher education is the result of an international conference organised by Globethics.net with the leadership of the University of Nigeria Nsukka in 2016 on managing and teaching ethics within higher education institutions. The focus on traditions and religions as vehicles for collaboration and co-existence in plural societies has gained great attention both in Africa and elsewhere. Read the book

 

 

Reports/Updates

Africa

Fighting corruption through religious institutions in Nigeria

LUX TERRA Leadership Foundation logo

In March 2018 the Lux Terra Leadership Foundation, in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation, introduced a series of trainings and public enlightenment activities on the effective use of religious institutions, networks and resources in fighting corruption and promoting integrity and accountability in Nigeria.  Read more

 

Video: Ted Talk The Role of Faith and Belief in Modern Africa

We're delighted to share a Ted Talk by Ndidi Nwuneli, member of the Globethics.net Board of Foundation on the role of faith and belief in modern Africa. Watch it now

 

Europe

Fresh look at ecumenism and theological education needed in globalised and religiously diverse world

Dr Rudolf von Sinner during the public lecture Theological Education in the Context of Global Christianity

Rev. Prof. Dr Rudolf von Sinner, professor of Systematic Theology, Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, as well as moderator of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical Education and Formation Commission, delivered a public lecture in Geneva on 13 April 2018.  Read more

 

GlobeTheoLib 2018 - Trends, Challenges and Developments

GlobeTheoLib Consortium Members

The GlobeTheoLib Consortium, the international governing body of the Global Digital Library on Theology and Ecumenism, a joint project of Globethics.net and the World Council of Churches (WCC), gathered in Geneva from 13-14 April 2018.  Read more

 

Spring Board Meeting

Globethics.net Board Members - April 2018

Mr Pavan Duggal, an advocate and globally recognised cyberlaw specialist from India, was elected as a new member of the Globethics.net Board of Foundation at its spring meeting, which took place from 20-21 April 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. Read more

 

Celebrating the World Book and Copyright Day

World Book and Copyright Day, 23 April 2018

Globethics.net joined UNESCO on the World Book and Copyright Day celebration which takes place every year on 23 April. The aim of this day is to promote knowledge and information that is not only useful for us as humans but is useful for itself—the true purpose of learning. Read more