Report by Daniel Brett
Introducing his book, subtitled ‘Trust, integrity and leadership in the global economy’, Smith highlighted a ‘global shift in consciousness away from bottom-line thinking and acquisition, as the sole criteria, towards contribution to society’.
The inspiration for his book, Smith said, were the stories of courageous business people attending the annual conferences on Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy (TIGE) at the IoC international centre in Caux, Switzerland and similar business conferences in Panchgani, India. Smith said: ‘I was hugely stirred by their stories of great courage, in their stance for integrity and the values and virtues which build trust. I wanted to bring their stories together.’ He highlighted the series of global corporate scandals that began with the 2008 banking crisis and continue to this day with the VW emissions scandal.
Smith's book focuses on what he identifies as five pillars of trust: Sustainability, Cooperation, Integrity, Purpose and Stewardship. These inform the book's approach to social entrepreneurship, banking, the stance against corruption, the environmental challenge and the role of business academia, each of which are covered in chapters of the book.
He urged a re-reading of Adam Smith as a moral philosopher, not merely the man who spoke about the ‘invisible hand of the market’. Adam Smith, who is commonly regarded as the thinker behind free market economics, had ‘referred no less than 66 times to the “Impartial Spectator”, which acts like a “demigod within the breast”—in other words our conscience. That was at the very core of Adam Smith’s moral philosophy. And that is what subsequent generations so sadly overlooked. Yet, far from the ends justifying the means, the means actually determine the ends, as the banking crisis so painfully showed. The way we do things is as important as what we do.’
Lawrence Bloom (above left), who championed environmental responsibility while serving on the executive board at InterContinental Hotels Group, warned that, 500 years since the Renaissance, humanity had come to ‘a place of great danger’. He added: ‘We have come to the end of the age of change and are at the beginning of the change of age. Environmental, social and financial problems are related to a clash of values between the old and the new. Fiduciary duty should mean more than the quarterly bottom line and shareholder values in the pursuit of the maximisation of profit.’
All photos by Theoldore Liasi
‘Great Company: trust, integrity and leadership in the global economy’ by Michael Smith, Initiatives of Change, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-85239-047-1
Did you miss the event? A short video of the event is avaible below: