Socrates once said, “you’ll never know a line is crooked unless you have a straight line to put next to it.” And, we have increasingly lost our “straight lines” in our culture. This needs to drive us to be clear about what our absolutes and non-negotiable values are. And, a great way to do this is to write up and then live out a code of ethics. I recently came across the Harvard Business School MBA Code of Ethics. This code developed and promoted by students and graduates of the school to promote “straight lines” is intriguing and helpful. As a business leader I recognize my role in society.
- My purpose is to lead people and manage resources to create value that no single individual can create alone.
- My decisions affect the well-being of individuals inside and outside my enterprise, today and tomorrow.
Therefore, I promise that:
- I will manage my enterprise with loyalty and care, and will not advance my personal interests at the expense of my enterprise or society.
- I will understand and uphold, in letter and spirit, the laws and contracts governing my conduct and that of my enterprise.
- I will refrain from corruption, unfair competition, or business practices harmful to society.
- I will protect the human rights and dignity of all people affected by my enterprise, and I will oppose discrimination and exploitation.
- I will protect the right of future generations to advance their standard of living and enjoy a healthy planet.
- I will report the performance and risks of my enterprise accurately and honestly.
- I will invest in developing myself and others, helping the management profession continue to advance and create sustainable and inclusive prosperity.
In exercising my professional duties according to these principles, I recognize that my behavior must set an example of integrity, eliciting trust and esteem from those I serve. I will remain accountable to my peers and to society for my actions and for upholding these standards. This oath I make freely, and upon my honor. What do you think of this and what other examples of great Codes of Ethics have you come across?