Ethical leadership debated at The Pearl Initiative CEO Summit in Abu Dhabi
- United Arab Emirates: Thursday, May 03 - 2012 at 09:32
- PRESS RELEASE
Pearl Initiative - the private sector organisation developed in cooperation with the United Nations Office of Partnerships, and promoting transparency, good governance and corporate social responsibility in the Middle East, held a high-level CEO Summit in partnership with the Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training and the Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development in Abu Dhabi.
His Excellency began with a call to action, stressing that actions need to follow words. "Visit any organization's website to collect the words that we know and heartily endorse: transparency, honesty, responsibility, respect, rule of law, knowledge, accountability, justice, integrity, tolerance, and fairness. Board chairpersons obviously inhabit an intensely ethical environment," he noted.
Why then, His Excellency rhetorically asked, do we read almost daily of notable failures in board leadership? "Before pursuing success, we may gain some wisdom by reflecting briefly on some failures. The possibility of failure, after all, gives meaning to our efforts to succeed as board leaders. It shows that at least three things should be part of almost any board leader's qualities," he argued.
The three things His Excellency referenced were that many things are better understood in a historical context; that it is important to understand culture and the business environment; and that any successful leader must maintain the ability to accept reality while understanding the need for change.
Professor Yunus has spent his life making the case for a social enterprises, such as Grameen Labs, and in his keynote address explained how he pioneered the concept of Social Business, in which the profits of the company, which provides a social benefit of some kind, are re-invested into the company.
Yunus' work since the 1970s reflects a fundamental rethink of the economic relationship between the rich and the poor, their rights and their obligations. The World Bank recently acknowledged that 'this business approach to the alleviation of poverty has allowed millions of individuals to work their way out of poverty with dignity'.
Badr Jafar, co-Founder of the Pearl Initiative, stated that "We must now recognize that our corporate world has dramatically change, and that we are at tipping-point in momentum towards not just promoting, but demanding, and really understanding, the business case for creating a culture of transparency, good corporate governance, and ethical business practices."
Jafar finished by observing that as ethical business leaders, "We have a responsibility to all our stakeholders: to our shareholders and investors...to our industry and business partners, and to our employees, to whom we have the responsibility to lead by example, provide a secure working environment, and implement responsible labour practices."
The event, attended by 50 CEOs and Chairpersons from leading companies and institutions from Abu Dhabi and the rest of the United Arab Emirates, ended with a wide-ranging roundtable discussion of emerging best practice in business ethics, and ideas for how the Pearl Initiative can continue to promote this in a way that goes beyond words alone, but rather pursues measurable, concrete deliverables for all stakeholders.
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