The Vision of WFEB´s International Leadership Symposium on Ethics in Business

Through the International Leadership Symposium on Ethics in Business, the WFEB brings together leaders from all sectors of society to dialogue on the pressing need to strengthen human values and ethics in private and public sector.

As the transforming forces of globalization extend their reach to the remotest corners of the world, there seems to be a growing need to refocus on the identity of humanity as a whole and build upon the common resources available to human society to achieve progress and fulfillment for all. WFEB recognizes the pivotal role of business and the private sector in realizing these fundamental human values in a globalizing world. How wealth is generated, saved and shared in the context of globalization is also a question of individual awareness and human values.

The recent economic 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 human dimension in leadership styles and strategies. 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. While the risks involved in corporate decision-making are increasing constantly, the economic crisis appears to be pointing to leadership techniques that improve on traditional ways of doing business.

Business and Human Values or Spirituality is often seen as two separate worlds. It is believed that those who are focusing on human values may not be competitive. Perhaps the world of business and the world of human values are no longer two separate worlds.

Emphasizing human values does not necessarily exclude a competitive attitude.

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.

Instead of offering extra-bonuses and salary picks, leaders today seem to need to offer a sense of common purpose beyond the day-to-day tasks and needs to be able to articulate a shared vision in a way that inspires others to act. Working for the values itself rewards an employee and therefore he or she is usually not seeking further external rewards as values elevate us to act beyond what we can do, to embrace what we should do.

This symposium seeks to examine whether business and ethics are complementary or contradictory in nature, and explore new ways for business leaders to evolve leadership styles that are sustainable, yet profitable for their organizations.

Trust is the backbone of business. In the current economic downturn, as businesses face the challenge of restoring people’s faith and confidence, spirituality and human values can play a key role. Now is the time for us to come together and plan how we can build a sustainable future, and bring peace and prosperity to mankind. Human values and ethics need to be the core of any development. We have seen the flaws in communism; now we are seeing the failings of unbridled capitalism. It is time for a new ‘ism’ – humanism.” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Co-Founder World Forum for Ethics in Business