The global financial crisis of 2008 and the ensuing economic recession has brought under question the character and trustworthiness of business managers around the world. Unlike other professions such as medicine or law, which explicitly recognize a commitment to serving the greater good and formally espouse a strict code of conduct, management is yet to do either. Widespread views of management often subordinate business contributions to the greater good to the maximization of short-term financial returns, and emphasize a narrow view of managerial responsibilities as serving the interest of shareholders over clients, employees, or society at large. These views misrepresent the full complexity of the management profession and its role in driving global prosperity and, as we have painfully learned, can have disastrous economic consequences when taken to the extreme.
The YGL Global Business Oath aims to transform the value system dominant today among business leaders around the world by: (a) Explicitly recognizing that the ultimate purpose of management is to serve society by bringing together people and resources to create sustainable and inclusive prosperity that no single individual can create alone; (b) Recognizing that the effects (good and bad) of managerial decisions on the welfare of society are amplified by the accumulation of resources under legal corporations; (c) Proposing a code of conduct – a modern-day Hippocratic Oath of Business – that spells out a commitment to “doing no harm” throughout the practice of management. Hence, the Hippocratic Oath of Business aims to commit managers and business school graduates throughout the world to a common Code of Ethics and raise their awareness of ethical values such as integrity, honesty, reliability and responsibility.
Starting in 2009, YGLs developed the “hippocratic oath for business” together with 300+ YGLs worldwide, in a year-long process which ensured the applicability of it to the business context but also in different cultural contexts. The YGLs also worked with other “Oath” organisations to share experience and attempt to harmonize the different codes. A website was launched (www.globalbusinessoath.org) for people to sign the oath, individual YGLs secured their boards and organisations to sign. To date, more than 6,900 current and future business leaders have signed the “Hippocratic Oath for Business”, and have made a personal commitment to lead with purpose, act with integrity, and understand the reach, power and responsibility of business.
The Global Business Oath will be set up as an independent NGO with a dedicated secretariat. The governing board of the organisation will be 50% YGLs but will also include other Oath initiatives (MBA Oath, Aspen Institute, etc.). The YGL Directorate is working to ensure that current Active Member YGLs remain involved in the appropriate manner.
Angel Cabrera, Samer I. Asfour, Tewodros Ashenafi, Elena Barmakova, Gustavo Cardoso, François-Philippe Champagne, Adrian D. Cheok, Andrew L. Cohen, Arturo Condo, Jennifer Corriero, Jitesh Gadhia, Suhas Gopinath, Haakon of Norway, Lars Hinrichs, Christopher Jahns, Penny Low, Leslie W. Maasdorp, Aaron McCormack, Patricia Menendez-Cambo, David Munro, Henrik Naujoks, Efrat Peled, Paolo Ribotta, Alvaro Rodriguez Arregui, Daniel Sachs, Dan Shine, Jens Martin Skibsted.
Rakesh Khurana, Nitin Nohria, Manfred Reichl
We need as many YGLs as possible to sign the oath and to use their platforms of influence such as business leaders associations (e.g. Mongolia) or boards of directors and senior management teams (e.g. Banco Compartamos in Mexico) to encourage other acting business professionals to join the movement.