Church and corporateleaders reflect on principles of businessethics at Vatican Summit
Giugno 21, 2023
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences hosts a high-level Business Ethics Summit to explore how ethical and moral issues can be applied in the corporate environment.
By Christopher Wells
Business and church leaders, academics, and institutional stakeholders gathered at the Vatican’s Academy of Sciences on Friday for a “Business Ethics Summit” to for a discussion on how ethical and moral principles can be applied to the corporate environment.
The Summit was dedicated to how ethics can inform business decisions concerning the environment, emerging technologies, and current social issues. The conversation revolved around four main pillars: the human economy, the tech economy, the climate economy, and the impact economy.
Through an innovative use of artificial intelligence, the Academy provided a framework for participants to share their own expertise and experience for a conversation that highlighted the centrality of the human person and the necessity of bringing ethical principles into the world of business.
Philosophical foundations for business ethics “We tried to involve people from all different sectors of society – politicians, economists, professors, entrepreneurs,” said Father Philip Larrey, Dean of the Philosophy Department at the Pontifical Lateran University, who helped organize the event.
Father Larrey explained, “Business ethics is the understanding of what we do in the business world according to principles about right and wrong. Almost everybody agrees that you need to avoid doing wrong and do good, but we don’t always agree on what is good and what is wrong.
So we’ve tried to come up with different frameworks basically from a philosophical point of view.”
The Summit was focused on the ideas of philosophers John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, Aristotle, and Confucius, with discussion revolving around how to apply those principles to the business world.
Putting the human person at the centre Among those taking part in the Summit was Scott O’Neil, CEO of Merlin Entertainments, who spoke at the first session of the event, which considered “key milestones business should adopt to transform and compete in the era of human economy. “I think that what’s happening in the world now is pushing CEOs, business leaders, executives – and in partnership with
local governments, absolutely – to try to figure out how we’re going to operate together. There
are real problems that we have to solve together.
And it’s of my view that businesses can do the lion’s share of that work.”
Mr O’Neill insisted on the importance of putting people at the centre of the economy, saying, “That’s good for business.” He noted that business leaders today are being held accountable for their beliefs and values, adding that the questions they face will push them “to create cultures and environments that are good.
They’re good for the employee, they’re good for our customers – and they’re wonderful for the world. And I think that that trifecta is what’s going to push us forward.
Learning from others, looking to the future Christiana Falcone, a board member of the think tank “Core” that organized the Summit, highlighted the contribution of Cardinal Peter Turkson, the president of the Pontifical Academy. “I think the fact he reminded us this idea of good – which he declined as good wealth, good planet, good people… I think that was a simple but profound way of reminding us to ask
ourselves the question, was this good? Was this right? And these are basic ethical questions that
we have forgotten in the C-suite or in the boardrooms.”
Asked about her hopes for the Summit, she said the interaction among the participants was one of the chief outcomes of the event. “We wanted to contaminate the brain of everybody in the room with the thought of someone else, someone different… The outcome, I hope, is that people get out of this room and have learned a little bit or they’ve learned what they don’t know and then try and learn more about it.”
Ms Falcone noted, too, that the four case studies discussed at the event will also be presented to students at the LUMSA University. That’s good, she said, “because it means the generation of today in leadership, the decision makers, are passing the baton of their failure or of their success to the next generation.”