All great trips eventually come to an end, and my whirlwind speaking tour in Ireland has. It was an honor to present to some of the most esteemed organizations in Ireland, Transparency International, the Institute of Banking, the National University of Ireland Galway and Business Matters radio.
South East Radio’s Business Matters is a weekly business program that has become the focal point for business owners across the South East of Ireland, and it is renowned for imparting invaluable business information and advice to its listeners. The program engages Ireland’s sharpest thinkers, politicians, entertainers and business leaders in one-on-one interviews and round table discussions.
Since 2012, acclaimed interviewer Karl Fitzpatrick has presented Business Matters, South East Radio’s flagship business programme, every Saturday from 10:30-11:30am.
The podcast in which I was interviewed was especially relevant as Irish banks have gone through their own financial crisis fiascos and fraud and have instituted the Irish Banking Culture Board with a mission to restore public trust and confidence in Irish banks. I was able to talk about how to establish an ethical culture in both banks and other companies and re-affirm what the culture board is establishing.
There has been a devastating lack of trust on the part of Irish consumers and the Culture Board’s progress in this arena is to be commended. I touched on some of the points an organization must take if it is to be trusted, if they are to establish an ethical culture and if they intend to earn and retain that respect and trust.
As I discussed with Mr. Fitzpatrick, there is no question that we are living in an era where there is more fraud, where many rules have gone out the window and greed is front and center. To that point, I spoke about the fraudulent behavior I had experienced first hand at Citigroup, where approximately 60 – 80% of billions of dollars of mortgages that Citigroup bought and sold annually were “defective.”
More importantly were the common sense points of how to get and keep an ethical culture so the same problems do not prevail. Key issue # 1 is trust, the currency of this decade, the most important fundamental between the organization’s leaders and all of its stakeholders.
Mr. Fitzpatrick asked, are most companies sincerely emphasizing ethics and ethical cultures? Are we too tolerant and more accepting of unethical behavior? Yes to both. Business leaders have to continually strive to promote respect, of employees, their missions, and the company’s values.
I’m confident that Irish business is making strides in this direction. Mr. Fitzpatrick also interviewed Marion Kelly, President and acting CEO of the Irish Banking Culture Board with whom I’d had the pleasure of interacting with at the earlier conferences I addressed in Dublin. Her comments about restoring public trust and confidence in the Irish Banks and the initiatives they are taking to get there are well worth listening to.
Ms. Kelly noted, “We’ve been working on establishing the Irish Banking Culture board for over nine months now. What we decided to do was we need to hear the voice of the staff, the public and the stakeholders.” She has emphasized how important it was for the Culture Board to engage all stakeholders to facilitate and encourage the highest standards of ethical conduct in banking.
A laudable first step more businesses need to take.