Ethics at heart of economic crisis, says EBBF

6 July 2009

GENEVA — Any response to the world economic crisis must address ethics, given that the crisis is "fundamentally one of trust and integrity," the European Baha'i Business Forum said in a statement published last week.

Furthermore, the situation requires an ethical response "at all levels" – from individuals, from corporations, and from governments and regulatory entities, said the statement, released as some 400 representatives from dozens of countries and organizations gathered in Geneva for a two-day Global Ethics Forum.

As people reshape their thinking, certain principles must be considered, said the EBBF.

"We need to replace the concept of self-centered materialism with that of service to humanity," the EBBF said. Cooperation must replace competition, the statement continued; ethical behavior must replace corruption, gender balance must replace sexism, world unity must replace protectionism, justice must replace injustice.

"EBBF promotes and welcomes engagement with the widest possible community to develop together the new framework," the statement said.

"We call on peoples from all businesses, countries, and walks of life to work together to build a new economic system based upon equity and justice," it concluded.

More than 20 members of the European Baha'i Business Forum participated in the Global Ethics Forum, held 2-3 July at United Nations headquarters in Geneva.

EBBF issued the statement in an effort to contribute to new ways of thinking that will help companies and countries develop new models as they navigate the current crisis.

"There is a growing need for alternatives," said Daniel Truran, secretary general of the EBBF. "People are thirsty for a different way of working and of conducting their organizations.

"In times of crisis, the search for the 'right' way forward – a direction that was not the one that got us into this crisis – is stronger than ever," he said.

The European Baha'i Business Forum was founded in 1990 and now has nearly 400 members in some 60 countries.

Among its activities, the EBBF:

– organizes or participates in more than 250 events a year at the local, national, or international level;

– designs university and postgraduate courses for young professionals, particularly those who are concerned about being confronted with a business environment that conflicts with their own ideals and values;

– publishes materials to offer ideas and background to its members and others, and posts online interviews with individuals who are trying to practice values-based leadership in their work.

The organization lists its seven core values as ethical business practices, social responsibility in business, values-based leadership, sustainable development, a new paradigm of work, partnership of women and men in all fields of endeavor, and nonadversarial decision-making through consultation.

The EBBF Web address is http://ebbf.org