Global Ethics Day 2020: Blog Post from David Grayson of the Institute of Business Ethics

Oct 28, 2020

David Grayson is the chair of the Institute of Business Ethics, an organization established in 1986 to promote high standards of business behavior based on ethical values. He is also Emeritus Professor of Corporate Responsibility at Cranfield School of Management.

This article was originally posted on the Institute of Business Ethics website and is posted here with the kind permission of the author.

I organised my first campaign when I was eight (a fundraiser for cancer research) and I guess I have been a campaigner ever since! So, my first reaction when I heard about the Global Ethics Day was, what a great initiative! And my second reaction, as a campaigner, was, how can it become more widely known and observed, around the world?

We all need ethics: our North Star of right and wrong and a reasoning process to help us resolve the ethical dilemmas that we face in our work and personal lives. Some of us, have a religious faith to help us. Some of us may draw on the teaching of one of the great philosophical traditions. Some may benefit from the ethical guidance of our professional body. Many of us will have an employer with a code of ethics – and if it is a good employer, there won’t just be a code but regular training and communications about the code, leaders championing and modelling the code, and a robust “speak up” culture to catch unethical conduct in the bud.

Nevertheless, external reminders like Global Ethics Day, can be a helpful reminder. So, in campaigner mode, let’s look ahead to the tenth annual Global Ethics Day which, by my calculation, will be October 19, 2023.

Three years ahead, is far enough away to develop networks, build further relationships, find some sponsorship; but not so far into the future, that work can be delayed.

We might see organisations like the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), the Academy for Business in Society (ABIS), the UN’s Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative, the Global Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI) and indeed the IBE all working together with the major business school international accreditation boards to encourage business schools to host master-classes, guest speakers, ethical dilemmas’ workshops to mark Global Ethics Day on October 19, 2023. The curriculum developed by Mary Gentile: Giving Voice to Values would be one excellent starting point. Perhaps business schools could partner up with schools in other parts of the world to explore some of the practical challenges of leading ethically across cultures. Perhaps some of the annual competitions for the best business school teaching cases, could include an extra category in 2021 and 2022 to encourage up to date teaching cases around cross-cultural ethical dilemmas?

Similarly, there could be an opportunity for Corporate Responsibility Coalitions across the world like CSR Europe, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) to host blogs, webinars, training programmes for member companies on October 19, 2023. The same for business groups like the International Chamber of Commerce.

Global Ethics Day is already involving some of the accounting bodies in different parts of the world. How about if their umbrella bodies internationally took up the Global Ethics Day? Which traditional and social media might become active media partners?

I would hope that by the tenth annual Global Ethics Day in 2023, the IBE and others have been able to demonstrate how an ethical lens absolutely permeates through the ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) investment frameworks which are becoming increasingly popular for investors and for the organisations they are investing in.

I have always thought that an important part of successful campaigning includes what the American management guru Tom Peters calls, “creative swiping” or “stealing with pride” (of course doing it ethically and with attribution!).

#PurpleLightUp is a global movement that celebrates and draws attention to the economic contribution of the 386 million disabled employees around the world. It is an initiative led by the consultancy: PurpleSpace. It links to the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) held annually on 3rd December.

Since 2017, #PurpleLightUp has been driving momentum for disability inclusion across hundreds of organisations, reaching thousands of employees in different ways. This includes lighting up iconic buildings purple, holding events, developing workplace policies for disabled employees and sparking conversations about disability inclusion worldwide.

In 2020, #PurpleLightUp will be bigger than ever before, through a 24-hour global broadcast with webinars, interviews, panel discussions and more.

My challenge back to the Carnegie Council is: how by 2023 can we help you to produce something equivalent to #PurpleLightUp for Global Ethics Day? An initiative bringing together a number of organisations across the globe, which champion ethical behaviour? This could have the very valuable effect of helping to bring ethics organisations together more.

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