When the Brookfields Business Ethics Award was unveiled at the 1999 Deloitte/Management magazine Top 200 Awards a significant number of the audience responded with laughter. Business ethics, some commented wryly, was an oxymoron. Such a response might have been expected at a meeting of deep green environmental activists but here were the leaders of New Zealand's business community questioning the place of ethics.
Seven years on times have changed dramatically. From investors through to regulators, business ethics has become a mainstream issue that wise businesses are taking seriously.
This year, the awards are being repositioned to reflect the growing recognition that business ethics starts with the board. The 2006 Kensington Swan Ethical Governance Award, part of the Deloitte/ Management magazine Top 200 Awards, acknowledges the increasing recognition of business ethics at the most senior levels of business leadership.
What is driving this changing agenda for business?
* An increasing focus on ethics from leading businesses both here and overseas;
* Investor demands for ethical performance; and
* The business ethics expectations of regulators, including Securities Commissions.
Both locally and globally, the boards of leading businesses …