Dr John A. Rees, Director (Acting) of The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Institute for Ethics & Society (IES) joined representatives from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australian Banking Association, the Governance Institute of Australia and Australian law firm, Clayton Utz, for a breakfast forum titled Restoring Faith in Corporate Ethics: Life Post the Financial Services Royal Commission.
The panel, which featured leading experts in financial governance and law including Anna Bligh, CEO of the Australian Banking Association, addressed how organisations can move forward in a new era of ethical and social accountability. The findings of the 2019 Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry have challenged industry leaders to review their practices and develop new approaches to work and training that will re-build trust between financial institutions, their customers and the wider community.
Dr Rees commented on the human aspect of doing business and why it’s so vital to rethink decision-making systems and structures from an ethical point of view. Importantly, Dr Rees emphasised the pivot toward ethics as a time of opportunity for financial organisations and the business community at large. “Ethics-orientated institutions can be stabilisers in this moment of great disruption in politics and society,” he said, adding that financial institutions now have an opportunity to lead institutional reform.
In conversation with fellow panellists, Dr Rees outlined a framework for growing ethical institutions and offered a set of integrated questions for attendees to consider and apply to their own business contexts. Practical recommendations from Dr Rees included the prospect of financial institutions involving ethicists in residence as a way of cultivating the habits of ethical decision-making throughout the organisations. He also suggested businesses find ways to serve the common good in wider society beyond the worthy and established practices of corporate social responsibility.
“At the IES we believe institutions can prosper in a new age of ethical accountability. Professional ethics training has never been more important for business,” said Dr Rees. The IES has developed considerable expertise in the field of professional ethics education that is practical and actionable for businesses. It is from this research that it offers resources and programs such as Ethical Leadership training packages, which support organisations to effectively address ethical issues and build robust ethical cultures.
One recent client to experience the IES approach to professional ethics training is the Commercial & Asset Finance Brokers Association of Australia (CAFBA). "Whilst commercial finance broking was not featured in the recent Royal Commission into Financial Services, it nevertheless highlighted the need to be aware of the important role ethics plays in this sector,” said David Gill, CAFBA CEO. “CAFBA therefore commissioned the Institute for Ethics & Society to write a series of very relatable articles on the role of professional ethics in commercial finance broking. The Institute very quickly grasped the issues that commercial finance brokers faced, and will only raise the standard of professionalism expected of our members."
More information about the services offered is available at The Institute for Ethics & Society.
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