The financial meltdown of 2008 and the ensuing global economic crisis have ignited a vigorous debate on the responsibilities of businesses and those who manage them and have raised the question of whether managers ought to be required to adopt the equivalent of a “Hippocratic oath”. The pressure is indeed mounting, as public trust towards business leaders has hit historically low levels and questions about business ethics have become a central topic in the media. Even the leaders of the G20 nations, in their most recent meeting in Pittsburgh, singled out “reckless behavior and a lack of responsibility” among the root causes of the crisis.
The idea that business managers should be held to the same standards of professional conduct that are expected of other professions is at least as old as business schools. Yet, practitioners and academics have stubbornly refused to explicitly accept any other responsibility for managers than maximizing shareholder returns, and any code of conduct beyond simply obeying the law.
The Oath Project was founded to change the way business leaders, the academic institutions that prepare them, and the organizations they serve, think about the true responsibilities and reach of management. Using a “Hippocratic oath for business” as a foundation for transformational change, The Oath Project aims to provide the tools necessary to integrate the concepts of professional conduct and social responsibility into the culture, core values, and day-to-day operations of both academic institutions and corporations.