Sending out a strong message to MBA students, management guru and academic Mrityunjaya Athreya has said that ethics should not be compromised on, whether in the corporate world or elsewhere. He was speaking at the inauguration of ‘LIBA Beacon: Business Ethics Conference 2016’ organised by Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA) in collaboration with National HRD Network, Chennai chapter. The event saw a host of speakers engaging the students on the theme ‘Leadership and ethics for the emerging future.’
Regarded as one of the founders and pioneers of the Indian management movement, Athreya urged the students to be firm on upholding ethics.
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Athreya said, “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.” When a student mentioned that being unethical is the norm these days, he asked her not to be so harsh. “That is just a cop-out!” he said.
He took examples of Volkswagen, Deutsche Bank, Apple, Wells Fargo, the Satyam scam and the Kingfisher case to point out how corruption affects businesses. In the end, regardless of the challenges we face, it is those companies that are ethical that will survive, he said.
But Athreya made it clear that ethics does not directly turn into good performance. “Skill is needed.”
Legality vs ethics
Another LIBA student broached the point of legality as opposed to ethics. The legal requirements at one time may have been different, so can a person or organisation be held accountable?
“India has always had ethics. The law is for laggards; the better companies are ahead of it, and laws should be amended for those few. Your conscience is important,” said Athreya.
According to him, India is slowly getting rid of its colonial hangover, which is a signal for improved ethics. He is also of the opinion that ethics should be taught from a young age.
“It starts from home — parents must teach their children ethics and not get seduced by materialistic gains.”
Teachers are the next biggest influencers. But since children aren’t taught ethics at these levels, he said, it should at least be taught in MBA courses.
The other speakers at the inaugural event were P Christie, SJ, Director, LIBA; AM Francis Jayapathy, SJ, Rector, Loyola College; Sujith Kumar, President, National HRD Network, Chennai; and Sridhar Ganesh, Chairperson, Management Development Centre, LIBA.
All of them emphasised on the difficulty of being ethical in a world that is so corrupt, but gave hope to the students by telling them that it is becoming a better place. While corruption remains on a smaller scale, more people are becoming aware, Athreya said.