This coming week I’m off to Ireland where I’m presenting to several groups, Transparency International, Ireland, the Institute of Banking and the National University of Ireland.
The core of each presentation is on ethics and integrity, using as a springboard my experience and resulting outcomes at Citigroup. I find that somewhat ironic given the present business and political culture in the United States. I’m thinking we can learn a great deal from them on how to conduct business more ethically.
For Transparency International, Ireland (TII) I’m delivering the keynote address on how to foster ethical behavior in the workplace; part of their annual Integrity At Work conference. TII is a multi-stakeholder, not-for-profit initiative, the Irish chapter of the worldwide organization against corruption. They fight to ensure power is used in the interest of everyone.
The parent organization, Transparency International (TI) gives voice to the victims and witnesses of corruption. They work with other chapters, over 120 of them worldwide, leading the fight against corruption to turn this vision into reality. At one time there was a U.S. chapter, however, it was disaccredited in 2017 for having “differences in philosophy” with TI. The Economist said, “No country can ignore its reputation for corruption. That means no country can ignore Transparency International.” Unfortunately, some still do.
Since 1993 TI has worked to fight corruption around the world. They have put in place binding and global conventions against corruption, holding governments and individuals accountable. In 1995 they developed the first-ever Corruption Perception Index, which scores individual countries on corruption in their public sectors and has been widely credited with putting the issue of corruption on the international policy agenda.
I’ll go on to speak, also in Dublin, at the Institute of Banking for alumni of their Certified Bank Director program. There are new regulations in Ireland covering bank directors that require their certification.
The new Irish Banking Culture Board (IBCB) will be represented at both conferences and has one overriding mission, to make banking in Ireland trustworthy again.
I was struck by their chair, Justice John Hedigan’s quote on their website page which says,
This is a challenging but most worthy endeavour. I am greatly looking forward to working with the new Board and engaging with all stakeholders, particularly bank customers, in facilitating and encouraging the highest standards of ethical conduct in this vital industry.
In the U.S., especially in banking, we are more focused on the shareholder, one who owns one or more shares in a company and therefore gets part of the profits; compared to stakeholder, one who has any interest in any decision or activity of an organization which includes employees, vendors, the community, government and also investors.
A full week in Dublin, as I then go to the National University of Ireland at Galway and the graduates of their Executive MBA Masterclass program. And then the Whitaker Institute, speaking to their students and faculty.
Will there be time to enjoy the renowned beauty and hospitality of Ireland? I sure hope so.
However, more than anything else it’s the differences in how we may do business that I am looking forward to observing and learning from. In the U.S., the Business Roundtable now states their new focus is on “stakeholders,” but their focus appears to continue to be more on profit and “shareholders.”
And I’ve yet to hear banking executives so publicly proclaim “let’s make banking trustworthy again.” As a former banker, ousted because of whistleblowing, I’m really looking forward to learning about the differences and, yes, similarities in how we do business in the U.S. and how they do in Ireland and their more respectful openness toward whistleblowing as needed. We will have a lot to share.