Article originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on May 23, 2022.
At the Drexel University College of Medicine commencement ceremony on May 13, the newly minted MD students recited the modern version of the Hippocratic Oath. The PhD and MS graduates recited the Graduate Student Oath.
As I listened to the words of these oaths which focus on ethics and integrity as these graduates enter their professions, I thought about the benefits to society of all graduates taking a similar oath, regardless of their field of study.
A growing number of business schools have their graduates recite the MBA Oath:
As a business leader, I recognize my role in society. My purpose is to lead people and manage resources to create value that no single individual can create alone. My decisions affect the well-being of individuals inside and outside my enterprise, today and tomorrow. Therefore, I promise that:
- I will manage my enterprise with loyalty and care, and will not advance my personal interests at the expense of my enterprise or society.
- I will understand and uphold, in letter and spirit, the laws and contracts governing my conduct and that of my enterprise.
- I will refrain from corruption, unfair competition, or business practices harmful to society.
- I will protect the human rights and dignity of all people affected by my enterprise, and I will oppose discrimination and exploitation.
- I will protect the right of future generations to advance their standard of living and enjoy a healthy planet.
- I will report the performance and risks of my enterprise accurately and honestly.
- I will invest in developing myself and others, helping the management profession continue to advance and create sustainable and inclusive prosperity.
In exercising my professional duties according to these principles, I recognize that my behavior must set an example of integrity, eliciting trust and esteem from those I serve. I will remain accountable to my peers and to society for my actions and for upholding these standards. This oath I make freely, and upon my honor.
The values outlined in the above MBA Oath are consistent with the Business Roundtable’s August 2019 statement redefining the purpose of the corporation. “The statement moves away from shareholder primacy [by including a] commitment to all stakeholders.” These are values all CEOs should embrace.
The Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists in part states, “Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair … and take responsibility for the accuracy of their work and … never deliberately distort facts or context.”
Is Fox News a news or entertainment organization? It doesn’t adhere to the above Code of Ethics. Some Fox hosts act unethically by supporting fringe unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and purposely spread disinformation that helps form and reinforce the political ideology of their audience.
The views of the Fox hosts can contribute to the hatred of others, which could result in violence like the racially motivated mass shooting on May 14 at a Buffalo NY shopping center patronized by black shoppers. Ten people were killed and three injured by the shooter who was allegedly influenced by the “great replacement theory,” a racist ideology peddled by Fox News hosts.
Some media hosts who make false claims are not held accountable by the corporations they work for because it’s very profitable to feed their audiences with what they want to hear. Profits come before ethics. Politicians also lack ethics when they deliberately distort facts or context or make statements that lack a shred of evidence for political purposes, like the false claim that the Buffalo mass shooting was a false flag act when there is no evidence that this is the case. These unethical media hosts and politicians further divide our country.
We all need to practice our profession with ethics and integrity, including those that mold public opinion.
Stan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership and author of “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” He is also a speaker, advisor and widely read nationally syndicated columnist on leadership, entrepreneurship and corporate governance. He can be reached at Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com.