Melbourne Business School launches new Ethics in Business Conference
Ethics is a challenge that business leaders need to address constantly, says Associate Professor Andrew John, chair of the upcoming Ethics in Business Conference at Melbourne Business School.
"The conference isn't simply a response to the scandals raised at recent royal commissions, but an opportunity to remind ourselves that ethics and social responsibility always belong at the forefront of business decision-making," he says.
"It's not about good or bad people, because even the well-intentioned can behave badly under peer or situational pressures, such as misaligned incentives. These pressures are constant, so we need to be aware of how we can best deal with them."
Professor John is the Associate Dean of Faculty at Melbourne Business School and teaches ethics on the School's MBA program, which was last week ranked the best in Australia by The Economist.
The Ethics in Business Conference on November 13 will look at issues around data and privacy, ethical dilemmas at the board level and trust in financial institutions.
Keynote speaker Elizabeth Proust – chairman of Nestle Australia, the Bank of Melbourne and the Australian Institute of Company Directors – will open the conference with a speech about ethical leadership and rebuilding trust.
The event will also feature a speech by Professor Cordelia Fine, who has written several best-selling books on gender and science, about the responsibility of business schools and universities to foster ethical behaviour.
"We're in the business of training people to be good leaders, and that includes being ethical. That's why Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility is a core subject in our MBA program," says Professor John.
"It's our duty to provide a forum to discuss the long-term importance of ethical leadership to an organisation's reputation. Melbourne Business School is the place to talk about things that matter to business."
The first panel of the day will be on the topic of Health, Data and Privacy, featuring experts from the law, business and medicine fields to discuss how the medical profession handles patient data. Another panel will feature RBA board member Carol Schwartz and veteran director Catherine Walter, who will look at a variety of ethical dilemmas faced at the board level.
Paul Kofman, Dean of the University of Melbourne's Faculty of Business and Economics and author of a book on ethics and finance, will chair the final panel on the role of trust in financial institutions.
"I think winning and maintaining trust will be the central theme throughout the day. If people in business don't behave ethically, then they lose the community's trust and can't do business at all," says Professor John.