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 in the welfare of society are amplified by the accumulation of resources under legal corporations, and (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.
The Forum of Young Global Leaders is pleased to provide this platform for leaders from all walks of life to be engaged in this important dialogue.