Integrating Faith, Ethics in Business Decision-Making

Article excerpt

The conflicts of interest between Wall Street investment banks and their clients, the unscrupulous mortgage lenders giving large sums of money to borrowers unable to repay the loans, a car company not immediately disclosing serious problems with its vehicles, a coal mine operating under dangerous conditions, and a state attorney general repeatedly misrepresenting the nature of his Vietnam service--all represent a quick sampling of ethically challenged and sometimes illegal behavior occurring every day in the marketplace.

In recent times venerable companies have vanished overnight due to mysterious accounting ploys and hide-the-risk strategies that cratered balance sheets and company viability, causing immediate unemployment for thousands and a loss of billions of dollars.

Yes, unethical behavior creates serious consequences.

How can ethical decision-making based on the Christian tradition become integrated in the workplace?

One organization is attempting to address this aspiration. The Greenwich, Conn.-based Greenwich Leadership Forum provides a venue for business executives to explore how faith and religious principles can play an important role in their decision-making, while building and leading successful and ethically sound organizations.

"Several of us saw a need in the community and GLF came together almost spontaneously to address that need," said Dick Murphy, the forum's board chairman, who has held executive positions with CBS, Texaco and Control Data before starting a management consulting firm.

The Greenwich Leadership Forum was created in 2004 and is open to all. While based on Christian principles and biblical teachings, the forum welcomes those from any and all faith traditions or none at all.

It also helps that today it is led by the affable David Mille, an expert in ethics whose day job is director, of Princeton University's Faith & Work Initiative. He is also an associate research scholar and lecturer at the New Jersey university.

What makes Miller different is that he actually had a successful, international business career. He lived and worked in London for eight years, where he was a partner in a private equity firm that specialized in international investment management, corporate finance, and mergers and acquisitions. Before that Miller held executive positions with HSBC Group and IBM.

After his corporate experience, Miller entered academia, receiving his master of divinity and a doctorate in ethics from Princeton Theological Seminary.

"Faith matters to God and work matters to God," said Miller. "GLF is in the trenches helping people to get to a place where faith and ethics are integrated into their work life."

How does the Greenwich Leadership Forum work?

The forum designs a yearly schedule of 10 gatherings at a local, non-church setting, where some 150 businesspeople gather at 6:30 a. m. for a light breakfast and a rich learning and saring experiecne. Attendance is by word-of-mouth. Miller's broad exprience lends itself to landing top-flight speakers.

While not a membership organization, the forum has created a databse of over 800 "friends," some of whom attend each month, others periodically, and still others are on the email list for updates and news about the organization. …