On June 3, 2009, the day before their official graduation, 400 Harvard MBA’s took an unofficial oath to “serve the greater good”, “act with the utmost integrity” and guard against “decisions and behavior that advance my own narrow ambitions, but harm the enterprise and the societies it serves.”
Is a values-driven agenda re-entering the workplace?
In 2001, Enron kicked off a two-year run on financial fraud (WorldCom, Adelphia, Tyco, Global Crossing, etc.) which gave a good jolt to business and consumer confidence. Accenture’s brand took a beating but other than that we seemed to return fairly quickly to ‘business as usual’.
That is until 8 years later, a financial crisis of epic proportions in conjunction with global climate change tied to a lack of responsible business oversight has even business students re-committing themselves to just what it means to be doing good business.
It may seem idealistic or even naïve for students to be taking this unsanctioned oath yet holding the business education community accountable may have greater implications for business management. A set of shared values is one that helps define a profession. As business students enter one of the worst hiring environments in decades, ethical decision-making is driving them to demand new approaches to shareholder value and 21st century company leadership.