Published: June 3, 2015
partners in business ethics
partners in business ethics
joe garcia

How can academics and corporate leaders partner to develop the next generation of values-driven business leaders? What is the most appropriate method for ‘teaching’ ethics to business students? How can corporations maintain continuity in the transition from business school to the workplace in ethics education?

Approximately a hundred deans, academics and corporate leaders from around the world packed the Glen Miller Ballroom at the University of Colorado Boulder last week to address questions on how to better equip business students for the ethical challenges of a global marketplace. The Partners in Business Ethics Conference brought together institutions like Babson, Cass, the Copenhagen Business School, Darden, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), the European School of Management and Technology, Goizueta, Mendoza and Tuck with companies like CH2M Hill, E&Y, Hain Celestial, Royal Dutch Shell and Walmart to identify the most realistic case studies in business ethics for students.

The conference was highly-interactive, reflecting state-of-the-art teaching techniques used by the Center for Education on Social Responsibility (CESR) at the Leeds School of Business. Relying heavily on attendee participation and spirited discourse, corporate and academic leaders addressed the valuable lessons students should learn from analyzing realistic ethical dilemmas they will face in the workplace.

“The format of the conference was unique,” reported Mark Meaney, Executive Director of CESR. “We had very few ‘talking heads’,” Meaney continued. “Instead, business leaders from domestic and multinational corporations worked with deans and academic leaders from around the globe to improve the educational experiences of tomorrow's business leaders both in the classroom and in talent development programs in corporations.”

Some fascinating speakers discussed their views on the importance of business ethics education, including Jonas Haertle, Head, Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) Secretariat, United Nations. Fitting for such an international assembly, the United Nations endorsed and participated in the conference. Attendees also heard from Dr. CB Bhattacharya, E-On Chair Professor in Corporate Responsibility and Dean of International Relations at the European School of Management and Technology (EMST) in Berlin, Germany.

In his keynote address, Lieutenant Governor Joseph Garcia of Colorado delivered a powerful message about the importance of diversity. He cautioned that if we are truly to be effective as teachers on the importance of diversity, we must first be diligent as administrators in insuring diversity in the classroom and among staff, faculty and the administration.

Dr. Xiang Bing, the founding dean and professor of China Business and Globalization at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB), flew in from China to attend the conference. In his keynote address, Dean Xiang spoke about China’s “collective myopia” calling for enhanced focus on ethics, social responsibility and sustainability to combat “short-termism.”

In concluding the conference, Leanne Geale, Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer of Royal Dutch Shell, who sponsored the conference, joined Terri Bourne, Risk and Assurance Manager at Shell, in leading a special extended workshop for students and executives . Ms. Geale presented a case study drawn from her experience at Shell, and Ms. Bourne facilitated in the participants’ analysis of the ethical dilemma. The Leeds students displayed their acumen in anticipating the manner in which Ms. Geale resolved the conflict.