Conference Report 2010

“Trust is the breath of business, ethics its limbs,
and to uplift the spirit, its goal.”
H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar,
Co-Founder, World Forum for Ethics in Business

World Forum for Ethics in Business: 18th – 19th November 2010
European Parliament, Brussels

International Leadership Symposium 2010:
Leadership in the 21st Century – Time for a Paradigm Shift?!

  • 4000 man hours
  • 400 delegates
  • 48 countries
  • 38 speakers
  • 7th International Leadership Symposium

The recent financial crisis has highlighted the challenge of establishing stability and growth in the face of global recession. It has also brought into focus the critical importance of the ethical dimension in leadership styles and strategies, since the financial crisis emanated at least in part from a breakdown in responsible and ethical behavior.

In the turbulent and globalized corporate environment of increased complexity and speed, traditional governance styles based on unrestricted risk- and profit-taking in corporate boardrooms seem to be giving way to new approaches that are more responsive to broader societal interests. Stronger regulations are being instituted for greater oversight and alignment between corporate and social objectives.

Business and Ethics are often seen as two separate worlds. It is believed that those who are focusing on ethics and social responsibility may not be competitive. Perhaps the world of business and the world of ethics are no longer two separate worlds. Emphasizing ethics may no longer be less competitive. Even with increased competition in business, there are very compelling reasons why ethics should not be compromised, and why ethics could in fact be a prerequisite to profitability.

Over the last seven years, a series of annual symposiums have been held at the European Parliament to examine whether business and ethics are complementary or contradictory, and explore new ways for business leaders to evolve leadership styles that are sustainable and socially responsible, yet profitable for their organisations.

Year 2009 was a watershed, when the growing momentum and support around these critical issues was institutionalized through the formation of the World Forum for Ethics in Business (WFEB). A set of focused priorities were indented to move from awareness-building to specific actions, including convening a forum on Africa.

In year 2010 symposium was built on the progress that has been made, but now seeks to move to another level of broadening and deepening impact through scaled-up actions. An overarching theme was on the crucial need for visionary, inspirational and skillful leadership to navigate ethical and profitable business in post-crisis recovery. This called for a paradigm-shift: from motivation through salary perks to inspiration through shared vision and common values.