Those of us in the “people, planet, profits” field recognize the wide variety of stakeholders whose lives are impacted by daily business operations. As such, our role as generators of wealth is taking on a new meaning with new responsibilities. In order to ensure the integrity of what we do, two Harvard business school professors have put forth the idea that managers should take a “Green Hippocratic Oath.” What would this oath consist of? How would taking such an oath influence the everyday business decisions for a whole new generation of managers?
Profs. Rakesh Khurana and Nitin Nohria suggest that business professionals begin to think of themselves as having similar responsibilities as doctors and lawyers in society.
They write, “Management, in other words, will have to become more like the learned professions of medicine and law. Professions such as these are, at least in theory, characterized by an orientation to serving society–and they have something the profession of management does not have–a normative code or oath that encourages leaders to consider the broader implications of their actions.”
Considering the challenges of climate change and global poverty, such an oath would orient business professionals towards utilizing their talents for the greatest environmental and social good. So, what would the oath say?
As one example, the Thunderbird School of Global Management adopted the following “Professional Oath of Honor” for their students in 2006. It reads:
“As a Thunderbird and a global citizen, I promise:
I will strive to act with honesty and integrity;
I will respect the rights and dignity of all people;
I will strive to create sustainable prosperity worldwide;
I will oppose all forms of corruption and exploitation; and
I will take responsibility for my actions.
As I hold true to these principles, it is my hope that I may enjoy an honorable reputation and peace of conscience. This pledge I make freely and upon my honor.”
Such an oath reminds us of the greater potential we have as skilled business professionals to bring lasting prosperity and health for all those involved in our enterprises. I wholly support the notion of a verbal and written affirmation to instill in us our higher responsibilities beyond making a profit.
What other similar oaths exist? I would love to hear of more examples…