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Ethics, values and leadership in the workplace
In the backdrop of increasing revelations of unethical behaviour in large corporations and political scandals, Royal Roads hosted a Leadership Symposium on Ethics and Values in the Workplace Oct. 16 as part of its 75 Years of Changing Lives celebrations. The event saw nine experienced leaders take the stage to share their thought-provoking reflections and insights.
“We were honoured to welcome some of our past honorary degree recipients and distinguished community leaders to our campus for this timely discussion,” says Royal Roads President and Vice-chancellor Allan Cahoon. “How we conduct ourselves as leaders has never been more important and these panelists exemplify that positive approach.”
The panelists shared their personal perspectives, drawing upon their leadership experiences from a variety of industries; international business, government and the arts, to education, non-profit organizations, military and hospitality.
Themes emerged throughout the discussion with a particular focus on the need for leaders to be courageous and put aside personal interest, to maintain professionalism and to keep commitments. Several of the panelists raised the notion of a personal sense of responsibility: to do what is right.
Panelist, Royal Roads honorary degree recipient and former President of the University of Alberta, Dr. Myer Horowitz, explained how that particular element of leadership is often neglected.
“Be true to yourself if you believe strongly in something regardless of the world around you,” Horowitz said. “You may end up being a minority of one, but you’ve got to flex your muscle and do what you think is right.”
Panelist and corporate communications and government relations consultant Victoria Kuhl noted attitudes toward authority, institutions and corporations have changed.
“You can no longer operate in isolation behind closed doors,” Kuhl said. “People are now asking questions and are not prepared to accept that the people at the top know what is best, know the answers and will make the right decisions. The veil has been lifted.”
Kuhl added that people have more access to information and are looking inside to see how corporations and institutions operate. “It’s bringing our society to really demand and expect the kind of ethical behaviour, value-based behaviour decision-making that we’re seeing more and more now.”
The full list of panelists included:
- The Honourable Dr. Mary Collins, PC, Royal Roads board of governors (moderator)
- Vice-Admiral (Ret.’d) Bruce Donaldson, CMM, CD, former vice chief of the defence staff
- Dr. Terry Farmer, founder and chair of Accent Inns
- Dr. Hugh Gordon, FCA, former Royal Roads chancellor and board of governors chair
- Dr. Myer Horowitz, former University of Alberta president
- Dr. Sherman Jen, CEO and chairman of Maple Leaf Education Systems
- Ms. Victoria Kuhl, principal of Kuhl Consulting
- Dr. Tania Miller, music director of the Victoria Symphony
- Dr. Peter Robinson, Royal Roads alumnus and CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation