2014 Gourlay Public Lecture

 

MBS was honoured to host the 2014-2015 Gourlay Visiting Professor of Ethics in Business, Dr Rosamund Thomas, Director of the Centre for Business and Public Sector Ethics at Cambridge University. 
 
Established in 1988 at a time when the university did not yet have a Business School, the Centre - the first in Europe - was established as a separate legal entity, pioneering business, government and environmental ethics before such subjects were to become mainstream. Twenty-five years later, Dr Thomas continues to direct the Centre which collaborates with universities, governments, and businesses in both developed and developing countries.
 
Dr Thomas discussed 'Business ethics: Polarisation between public relations and practice’ The Role of Modern Business: Profit-making or Corporate Citizenship'.
Corporate Citizenship – or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as it is also known - is a strategic practice that can positively affect all elements of the triple bottom line. It is vital to modern business as it fosters stronger performance and profitability, enhances employee relations and company culture, allows for brand differentiation, and builds stronger relationships with the wider community.
 
Dr Thomas outlined three corporate social responsibility (CSR) theories and drew attention to a few companies that are applying best practice in this area.
 
Through the use of case studies, Dr Thomas demonstrated how, on one hand, these companies assert their business ethics and corporate social responsibility credentials while, on the other hand, they are involved in unethical - and sometimes illegal - practices. She discussed how companies can move away from public relations drivers to make a real sustained effort in practice to uphold ethical values of honesty, integrity, and concern for society.