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Ethics: The new business imperative

In today's business environment we often uncover less-than-ethical behavior as recently demonstrated by leaders in the financial services industry that contributed to the economic crisis. Ethical issues and moral values are traditionally talked about among society at large, but does the topic belong in business? Barry Morgan, a writer for The Globe and Mail, poses this question in his article "Is an MBA ethics oath realistic in a dog-eat-dog world?"

MBA schools place new emphasis on ethics

Morgan reports on a trend that MBA students worldwide are placing new emphasis on studying not only business fundamentals, but those values by which a business should run. After all, Morgan says, "But it ought to be a fundamental given that institutions are created for people, not people for institutions… the exercise of responsible, ethical leadership is crucial." Some MBA students are taking their focus one step further in the form of an ethics oath as demonstrated by MBA students at Harvard in 2009. Schools worldwide are beginning to follow suit.

Morgan also highlights the work of Simon Longstaff, from the St. James's Ethics Centre in Australia. Longstaff recommends businesses ask themselves a series of questions, some as simple as, "Will the proposed course of action bring about a good result?" When businesses define their ethical foundation, they provide people with a framework for sound decision-making. According to Morgan this is an imperative, "because, in the end, conventional regulations cannot cure moral blindness or human greed."

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