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A recent article in the New York Times focused on a group of soon-to-be graduates of Harvard Business School who have signed an oath promising to “serve the greater good” as business leaders (HT: Susan McCool). According to the Times, almost 20 percent of the graduating class have signed “The M.B.A. Oath.”
With such questions in mind, several students me with a couple of HBS professors, one of whom had recently written an article calling for a “rigorous code of ethics” for managers. The students and professors decided to get at least 100 HBS grads to sign an MBA Oath. They hoped that such a “small campaign” might “make a meaningful impact in the lives of those students and it might send an important message to the world about how attitudes are changing at one of the most well-known MBA programs.” At this point, over 160 students have signed on to the oath.
The oath comes in two version, a shorter and longer version. The full version is about 500 words; the shorter version is half as long. I will bring the shorter version here. You can find the longer version at this link.
The Harvard Business School MBA Oath, Shorter Version
As a manager, my purpose is to serve the greater good by bringing people and resources together to create value that no single individual can build alone. Therefore I will seek a course that enhances the value my enterprise can create for society over the long term. I recognize my decisions can have far-reaching consequences that affect the well-being of individuals inside and outside my enterprise, today and in the future. As I reconcile the interests of different constituencies, I will face difficult choices.
Therefore, I promise:
• I will act with utmost integrity and pursue my work in an ethical manner.
• I will safeguard the interests of my shareholders, co-workers, customers, and the society in which we operate.
• I will manage my enterprise in good faith, guarding against decisions and behavior that advance my own narrow ambitions but harm the enterprise and the societies it serves.
• I will understand and uphold, both in letter and in spirit, the laws and contracts governing my own conduct and that of my enterprise.
• I will take responsibility for my actions, and I will represent the performance and risks of my enterprise accurately and honestly.
• I will develop both myself and other managers under my supervision so that the profession continues to grow and contribute to the well-being of society.
• I will strive to create sustainable economic, social, and environmental prosperity worldwide.
• I will be accountable to my peers and they will be accountable to me for living by this oath.
This oath I make freely, and upon my honor.
What do you think of this oath? I’ll offer further observations tomorrow.