On Tuesday, the Center for Professional Responsibility in Business and Society invited Keith T. Darcy to the University of Illinois to give a presentation entitled “Corporate Social Responsibility: Ethics or Profit?” Darcy is the Executive Director of the Ethics and Compliance Officer Association, which is the largest organization exclusively for ethics and compliance executives. Darcy’s presentation was phenomenal—a must-see for anyone going into business.
Darcy began his talk with the history of Corporation Social Responsibility (CSR) and ended it with where he saw CSR going in the future. He stated that, “at the core of a great company is integrity” and mentioned Kaku, the CEO and Chairman of Canon Inc. as the “corporate Buddha” and role model for others in the business world. Kaku often talks about the four types of businesses: 1) businesses that are purely capitalistic, 2) businesses that have policies surrounding good labor relations, 3) businesses that look to the interests of their employees and stakeholders and 4) businesses that have a sense of global responsibility. According to Kaku, corporations need to better embody the fourth type of business rather than solely concentrating on the first type, which surrounds the notion of values and integrity.
Regarding the state of CSR today, Darcy stated that leaders must understand their role as “stewards” of society and the next generation, that they must look ahead to see how the actions they take today affect the world of tomorrow. He went on to state that our morals are what make us distinctly human—our morals are our gift. What we do with those morals are our gift to the rest of the planet. He stated that corporations need to move from “power” to “empower" so that people in large companies are able to act on and stand up for their values. Once people are able to better define their values, the values of a corporation will be better upheld, which will help people, the planet and profits, as a result.
Keith T. Darcy’s talk was poignant and important. As future leaders of the world, MBAs need to ensure that they think of not only the present and how to better their businesses now, but also of the future and how the decisions they make will impact that future. As the Illinois MBA program’s Ethics in Leadership professor states, “We must leave the world better than we found it.” Darcy gave those attending his presentation a lot to think about. As we go through the MBA program and on to our careers, how will we make the world a better place?
I am so thankful I had opportunity to hear Darcy’s speech so that I can start my journey toward a successful career with integrity in my heart and my values in mind.