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Bentley Global Business Ethics Symposium Examines Corporate Social Responsibility in the 21st Century

May 24, 2006

Although they hail from different companies, two keynote speakers at the Second Bentley Global Business Ethics Symposium were in agreement: Global organizations such as theirs must translate their values to the needs of a complex world, and sometimes that is a tricky business.

"The ultimate challenge is making corporate social responsibility (CSR) an integral part of the company's business objective, not just an adjunct component," said Richard W. Pearl, vice president of community affairs for State Street Corporation, sponsor of the symposium held at Bentley College on May 22. Approaches to CSR may vary, Pearl said, "But you have to have a core set of values that you want to adhere to, particularly in regard to the environmental and social issues."

Business ethics experts from the U.S. and abroad gathered at the symposiumfor in-depth discussions of current practices and challenges in business ethics and corporate responsibility. The symposium facilitated exploring current practices in other institutions, countries and cultures; identifying ways to enhance ethics and corporate responsibility in business education and in outreach to the corporate community; and disseminating the experience throughout the academic and practitioner worlds.

"Ethics live by being constantly reinterpreted and reapplied to complex and real-world situations that even an elaborate code of conduct could never predict," said Barry Salzberg, managing partner of Deloitte & Touche USA LLC and luncheon keynote speaker. "Ethics can't live as posters stuck on a wall. It's in action - in interpretation and correct application that ethics truly come to life."

Salzberg discussed how Deloitte pursues 'doing the right thing' by translating ethics into action, values into best practices and equality into opportunity. In particular, he pointed to the company's substantial presence in India as a rich learning experience about translating values and practices from one culture to another without losing anything in translation.

"One size fits all may work with baseball caps but for a global code of conduct, it's about as practical as trying to convince the world to drive the same car," said Salzberg. "What translates, at least in our experience, are clear principles locally tailored into an explicit code - all within a strong system of governance. It is not a guarantee against ethical missteps. But the result is an organization with wings strong and flexible enough to withstand the world's ethical stresses and equally sudden bumps."

The Bentley Global Business Ethics Symposium is a partnership between Bentley and State Street Corporation established in the memory of Timothy B. Harbert '76, chairman and CEO of State Street Global Advisors and trustee and alumnus of Bentley College. The partnership unites business and higher education to build a strong ethical foundation from which to serve their many constituencies and communities.

State Street Corporation is the world's leading provider of services to institutional investors. With offices in 25 countries and customers in more than 100 diverse markets, State Street understands the implications of being a socially responsible community leader and ethical business partner. State Street is proud to partner with Bentley College in this important endeavor.

Bentley's commitment to ethics education has been a cornerstone of the school's curriculum and campus since 1976. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Center for Business Ethics, part of the Bentley Alliance for Ethics and Social Responsibility which also includes the Bentley Service-Learning Center, the Women's Leadership Institute, the Cronin International Center, and the CyberLaw Center. Bentley is honored to partner with State Street Corporation to further this mission.

 

BENTLEY UNIVERSITY is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit www.bentley.edu

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