For entrepreneur and philanthropist Michael Herman, business ethics boils down to one basic rule. "If you look at the Judaic, Christian, and Islamic concepts of ethics and fairness, they are all quite similar," he says. "They all say, 'Treat people as you would like to be treated.' That's an excellent rule for business, too." It's also a proven formula for success, he notes. When businesses treat their employees fairly, they are happier and more productive. When they play fair with customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders, their bottom lines improve.
In this interactive presentation, liberally punctuated with real-world examples, Herman will illuminate the value of ethics in business and offer some guidelines for incorporating fairness and transparency into employee, customer, and stakeholder relationships. He'll show how successful organizations establish ethical frameworks, focus on how to apply those frameworks to their dealings with various constituents, and then measure the results. He'll even explore what higher education can learn about ethics from the world of business.
Herman's intimate understanding of the realities of business ethics comes from a distinguished career during which he has held senior positions with organizations in energy, manufacturing, philanthropy, and even professional sports. He has been executive vice president and chief financial officer of Marion Laboratories, a pharmaceutical company; president of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (the world's largest foundation devoted to entrepreneurship) and chairman of the foundation’s Finance and Investment Committee; and president of the Kansas City Royals. He is currently a director of biotechnology companies Senomyx Inc. and Santarus Inc. and health care IT firm Cerner Corporation, as well as a trustee of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. He holds a BS in metallurgical engineering from Rensselaer and an MBA from the University of Chicago.