Ethics Isn’t a Subject to Master—It’s a Way of Life.
I recently read, with great interest, an article in the Wall Street Journal, “Harvard Changes Course.” The recent attention paid to the curricular changes at some of the top business schools to place a greater emphasis on teamwork and ethical business practices is quite encouraging, and the actions themselves are an enormous step in the right direction. I hope, however, that in the rush to make sure their curricula cover issues of ethics and social responsibility as adeptly as they do finance, accounting, and marketing, my fellow deans will ask themselves critical questions about whether their schools’ underlying cultures are ready to take on this challenge. Ethics isn’t a subject to master. It’s a way of life, a philosophy, a lens through which to view the world and to make every decision that comes your way—personal and professional.
From my experience at Loyola, it is my belief—and one that I know is shared with my colleagues at all Jesuit business schools—that to teach business from an ethical perspective you need faculty of every discipline who embrace this approach. You must ingrain concepts like reflection, discernment, and concern for others within your curriculum and your teaching. You need students who want to learn this way. When you recruit your students, you need to ask yourself how the principles of the men and women you are admitting influence their ambitions and leadership philosophies. You need partners in your local, national, and business communities who operate with integrity, who value an education grounded in ethics when they search for new employees, and who are willing to offer your students internships, field studies, and other opportunities to see ethics in action.
I’m eager to see what comes of changes at work at Harvard and other premier business schools. Their position in this discussion carries enormous influence throughout the global business community. But it is my hope, and my belief, that re-envisioning business education and the resulting impact on the character of our business leaders will establish a new and inspiring idea of what it means to hold an MBA. Perhaps one day in the not-too-distant future, an MBA, will convey much more than financial acumen and a strong network—it will automatically identify its holder as a leader and a person of profound integrity.