Navigating Business With Ethics
by Colleen Sabatino ’11 (M.A.)
The Pedro Arrupe Center for Business Ethics Celebrates 10 Years.
In his 2013 Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis calls for an examination of the purpose of business and a prioritization of the common good. Though academic and business communities have been making appeals like the pontiff’s since the modern business ethics movement began in the late 1970s, according to John McCall, Ph.D., director of the Pedro Arrupe Center for Business Ethics at Saint Joseph’s University, there is still much work to be done.
“Over the years, episodes of scandal have increased awareness of the need for business ethics education,” says McCall. They have also negatively impacted the perception of executives.
In December 2015, Gallup’s annual survey measuring perceived honesty/ethics of professions once again gave one of the lowest ratings to business executives. Only 17 percent of those surveyed indicated a “high” or “very high” rating among business executives — results that Fortune calls “worth taking seriously” and “bad for business.”
When reflecting on these results in his January 2016 Fortune article, ethicist, published author and Bloomberg BusinessWeek contributor Bruce Weinstein, Ph.D. encourages business leaders to “hire for character.”
“You understandably devote a lot of energy, time and resources to hiring people who are knowledgeable and skilled,” he writes. “Isn’t it at least as important to hire people who are consistently honest, accountable, loyal and fair — that is, men and women of high character?” — or perhaps men and women “challenged by a greater meaning in life” or men and women with and for others?
Changing the Culture of Business Education
To answer Pope Francis’ call with a lasting and powerful change to the culture of business, and provide the workforce of men and women of character Weinstein references, many believe the first step lies with reforming business education.
Since its founding in 2005, the Pedro Arrupe Center for Business Ethics in the Haub School of Business has been helping Saint Joseph’s University set the example.
“Jesuit business schools [like the Haub School] are uniquely positioned to lead the reform by challenging the standard assumptions of business education and living up to the principles and values espoused in their mission statements,” write McCall and Stephen Porth, Ph.D. ’80, Haub associate dean and professor of management, in a summer 2015 article in the Journal of Jesuit Business Education. “We must prepare our students to think differently about the nature and purpose of business and to face the ethical and moral challenges of today’s business environment.”
“Business is a vocation, and a noble vocation, provided that those engaged in it see themselves challenged by a greater meaning in life.”
— Pope Francis Evangelii Gaudium, 2013, #203.
It was the vision and generosity of Frank Trainer ’68 that challenged the Haub School of Business to develop a center for business ethics that would provide students with substantive and consistent exposure to discussions of ethics in the curriculum. His hope, shared by Joseph A. DiAngelo Jr., Ed.D. ’70, dean of the Haub School of Business was for SJU graduates to enter their career fields striving to make a positive impact in their communities, work-place and the world.
“If we can get students to begin thinking about the ethical perspective of real life business decisions in college and graduate school, then perhaps they will continue to do so in their business careers,” says Trainer.
Trainer’s challenge has not only been met, it’s been exceeded.
In 2010, just five years into the Center’s existence, the Haub School was ranked No. 12 in student exposure to ethics by the Aspen Institute’s global survey of business programs. Two years later, external consultants and renowned business ethicists Norman Bowie, Ph.D. and Joseph DesJardins, Ph.D. completed an external review of the Arrupe Center in which they stated, “In our experiences, few schools have been able to truly embed ethics into the culture of a business school. Discussions of ethics have truly become a part of the culture of HSB.”
The Pedro Arrupe Center for Business Ethics
Founded in 2005, the Pedro Arrupe Center is an intellectual resource for business ethics. Through faculty training, research funding, curricular development and programming, the Arrupe Center assures that all graduates of the Haub School of Business are equipped with the experience, knowledge and critical thinking skills to become the next generation of ethically-minded business leaders.
Two consecutive AACSB accreditation summaries (2010, 2015) concurred, noting the Center as one of the “crown jewels” of the Haub School.
“The Arrupe Center has been immensely successful in realizing Frank’s vision over the past decade,” says DiAngelo. “Not only have HSB’s culture and curriculum been strengthened, but our faculty and students are more cognizant of our mission and eager to join our commitment to the common good.”
The Arrupe Center sponsors ethics-focused programming and student competitions and inspired the formation of two campus organizations, SJU’s student chapter of Net Impact and the Arrupe Rising Business Leaders Network. The Center was instrumental in the creation of the Leadership, Ethics and Organizational Sustainability (LEO) major and in making improvements to every department’s course curricula. In 2014, HSB courses earned honorable mention from the Dr. Alfred N. and Lynn Manos Page Prize for Sustainability Issues in Curricula competition.
“Almost every class I took in the business school, whether for my major or not, discussed ethics and ethical practices within the business world,” says LEO alumna and former Net Impact leader Danielle Myers ’13. Now a sustainability and human resource manager for R World Energy Solutions, she says exposure to ethics and sustainability at SJU influenced her career aspirations.
Engaging Faculty, Impacting Students
The heart of the Arrupe Center’s activity — and its success — is the faculty. At the helm is Director John McCall, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and management and John McShain Chair in Ethics, whose dual appointment in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Haub School of Business is indicative of the wide-reaching nature of the Center and the distinctiveness of Saint Joseph’s business education model.
Along with McCall, leading the growth of the Center and empowering its unique model for faculty training are: David Steingard, Ph.D., associate professor of management and associate director of the center; Brent Smith, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing, associate director of the Pedro Arrupe Center and director, Office of Fellowships; and Vana Zervanos, Haub associate dean, with the support of Kimberlee Nagasarsingh, administrative assistant for the Center.
“Because we focus on substantively infusing our academics with discussions of ethics, we are creating a culture change and are a part of, not an addition to, the Haub School.”
— Brent Smith, Ph.D.
“The Jesuit educational platform and basis in moral philosophy distinguishes Arrupe from other ethics centers,” says Steingard.
“Ethics centers often concentrate on engaging external audiences,” says Smith, “but because we focus on substantively infusing our academics with discussions of ethics, we are creating a culture change and are a part of, not an addition to, the Haub School.”
To date, more than two-thirds of the tenured or tenure-track business faculty have received one or more Arrupe fellowship, awarded for research, teaching, case writing and professional development. Nearly one-third has participated in an Ethics Across the Currciulum (EAC) seminar, an intense six-week boot camp for faculty in both HSB and the College of Arts and Sciences wishing to add or enhance ethical content within their courses.
Empowered by the Center’s training and resources, the faculty of HSB are imparting lessons of ethics to not only the more than 50 percent of undergraduates pursuing a business major, but also the numerous College of Arts and Sciences students taking minors or electives in HSB and the over 1,000 graduate students in business.
Finance major Joseph Wutkowski ’16 has benefitted from the faculty’s proficiency in ethics. With support from Arrupe fellows, he co-founded the Crimson Financier, a student-edited academic journal, and is working on an endowed investment fund to support socially responsible companies.
“The millennial generation and our views on sustainability are causing the culture to change,” says Wutkowski. “It is up to the Arrupe Center to lead the charge to make sure the proper changes are made to our business courses.”
Since the program’s inception, the Arrupe Faculty Fellows program has resulted in 68 publications, 30 conference presentations, numerous research and faculty awards and the development of 44 new course models.
“Our fellowships encourage and prepare colleagues to explore topics related to ethics, sustainability and social justice,” says Smith. “To my knowledge, we are one of the few business schools with a center that actively seeks out specific professional development opportunities for supporting faculty in this area.”
“Not many other schools have faculty training in ethics beyond short afternoon seminars,” adds McCall. “We wanted to provide more comprehensive education to our faculty.”
“Celebrating our 10th anniversary has caused us to not only appraise and celebrate the Center’s accomplishments, but it also challenges us to make an impact that is all the more meaningful and sustainable moving forward,” says Zervanos.
Later this year, the Center plans to explore joining the United Nation’s global academic network, PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education), and will launch a “Fellows on Fellows” program, which will pair faculty members from different departments who have completed Arrupe fellowships for an opportunity to reflect on how they infuse issues of ethics in their research, teaching, and writing.
“I continue to hear professors say, even more often now that I am a senior, that there will come a time when we are tested on the job,” says Lisa Aquino ’16, co-founder of the Crimson Financier and finance major with minors in economics and English. “While I will have to make ethical decisions on a daily basis, it will be in those tougher moments that I will be grateful for my four years of Jesuit education, the Arrupe Center and business ethics in my curriculum.”
Over 30 industry leaders, ethicists, alumni and friends of the University serve on the Arrupe Center Advisory Board. View the full list here:
Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Arrupe Center
Monday, April 18
“Ethics in the Sport Business”
Tuesday, April 19
“Future of Food: Ethics, Sustainability, and Business”
Feat. Stephen Ritz, Founder of Green Bronx machine
Wednesday, April 20
The Carfagno Lecture Series
“Corporate Culture and Ethics”
Feat. Alan Murray, Editor of Fortune
Friday, April 22
Annual KPMG-Essent Intercollegiate Business Ethics Case Competition