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Monday, January 26, 2015

Strategic CSR - Hippocratic Oath

Building on the idea of an oath for graduating MBA students ( and a general oath for executives (see: Strategic CSR – Executive oath), the article in the url below proposes a Hippocratic oath for the financial sector. The stated need for such an oath is that:
"… despite five years of reform the public retains its distrust for bankers and the services provided fail to meet the diverse financial needs of society."
The reason, it is argued, is that the focus of reform was misplaced—falling more heavily on the symptoms of the problem, rather than the cause:
"A focus on financial stability alone fails to address the root cause of the crisis, which we believe lies in the inherent lack of virtue among our banking institutions and subsequent ethos. This led to a self-serving culture that influenced the behaviour of bankers."
It therefore follows, the authors argue, that a more effective response targets the underlying culture of the finance/investor industry. Rather than trying to impose a "rigid moral regime" to all, however, the authors instead apply what they refer to as the "theory of virtue":
"Applying this theory to banking reform means that our banks should, to the best of their abilities, attempt to meet people's diverse financial needs, and should not simply focus on self-enrichment or basic transactional services."
In essence, an ethical responsibility that is larger than the individual – a professional responsibility. More specifically:
"One way this can be achieved is by requiring all members of the banking profession to affirm a Hippocratic-style oath, where employees publicly voice their commitment to behave in a manner that prioritises customers and recognises that the abuse of their position can have dramatic consequences for society."
It is argued that such an oath would reform the culture of the profession, as a whole, as a result of focusing more on the social value banking adds, rather than a personal route to financial success. It would also reposition the image of bankers in the eyes of the wider public:
"Lawyers, doctors and architects all hold a professional motive to not only do the best for their client but also adhere to the well established principles of that profession. In medicine, the Hippocratic oath provides a centre-piece for personal responsibility in the profession and their overarching principles. Banking is no different and in the post-crash era, should strive towards professionalism."
Take care
David Chandler & Bill Werther
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Bankers should take a Hippocratic oath to restore virtue to the financial sector
By David Fagleman
July 28, 2014
The Guardian