Earlier this year, somethign called The MBA Oath was started by a group of students from the Class of 2009 at Harvard Business School in order to promote responsibility and ethical action among managers and business leaders. (Applause!)
The short version of the oath I have posted below, to read or download the full version click here.
THE MBA OATH
As a manager, my purpose is to serve the greater good by bringing people and resources together to create value that no single individual can build alone. Therefore I will seek a course that enhances the value my enterprise can create for society over the long term. I recognize my decisions can have far-reaching consequences that affect the well-being of individuals inside and outside my enterprise, today and in the future. As I reconcile the interests of different constituencies, I will face difficult choices.
Therefore I promise:
I will act with utmost integrity and pursue my work in an ethical manner.
I will safeguard the interests of my shareholders, co‐workers, customers and the society in which we operate.
I will manage my enterprise in good faith, guarding against decisions and behavior that advance my own narrow ambitions but harm the enterprise and the societies it serves.
I will understand and uphold, both in letter and in spirit, the laws and contracts governing my own conduct and that of my enterprise.
I will take responsibility for my actions, and will represent the performance and risks of my enterprise accurately and honestly.
I will develop both myself and other managers under my supervision so that the profession continues to grow and contribute to the well‐being of society.
I will strive to create sustainable economic, social, and environmental prosperity worldwide.
I will be accountable to my peers and they will be accountable to me for living by this oath.
This oath I take freely, upon my honor.
Imagine for a moment, that we gave this to top managers around the world and told them to fill in the blank: “As a manager, my role is to _________________.” Do you think any C-suite executive would answer with the first sentence of this oath, “As a manager my role is to serve the greater good…”? What do you think the most common answer would be?
This sentence is redefining the role of manager. If future executives and managers focused decisions and businesses primarily on bringing “people and resources together to create value” in order to serve the greater good, think of how different so many businesses would become! I am not suggesting that all businesses should become nonprofits with specific causes, nor do I think that is the purpose of this oath. If the context in which managers operated were to shift from creating pure profit to creating sustainable value, then the landscape of the corporate world as we know it could very much change.
It is also important to note the mention of “economic, environmental, and social” sustainable prosperity. Success is no longer a seven figure number or a positive balance sheet. In the light of the last 18 months around the world, with financial meltdown and Ponzi schemes, this oath seems necessary. Looking forward, in a world MBAs and business leaders will be the ones to create change, this oath is even more important.
For more information, check out MBAOath.org.