By Hubert Rampersad, Ph.D. | President, Authentic Governance Institute
Harvard University is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). One of NEASC’s accreditation standards entails: “The school’s admissions policies and practices shall ensure there is alignment between its Guiding Statements, its programs, and the students admitted to and remaining at the school“. It seems that Harvard University is also out of compliance with this standard.
Harvard University is also out of compliance with its own General Regulations and Standards of Conduct (its corporate governance system and code of ethics). Its Discrimination chapter stated: “Any form of discrimination based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, veteran status, or disability unrelated to course requirements is contrary to the principles and policies of Harvard University“.
Corruption at Harvard University
Harvard University’s behavior is all about corruption. The definition of corruption is: “dishonest or illegal behavior or inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means”. It seems that Harvard University’s corporate governance system is not working the way it should. The school has comprehensive corporate governance programs and codes of ethics in place which apparently are not working at all. Harvard University’s approach to corporate governance is formal, bureaucratic, and non-authentic, and therefore provide no protection from potentially catastrophic ethical failures. Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School teach great corporate governance programs to their students, so it it seems that Harvard University does not practice what it preaches.
Authentic Governance; an Innovative and Authentic Approach to Corporate Governance
Most corporate governance programs made things worse and create a stable basis for more corruption. We need a sustainable and innovative solution to this global epidemic urgently. I picked up where others left off by launching an innovative and sustainable methodology for creating a culture of good people, in which high ethical values are aligned with their corporate governance rules, regulations and guidelines and embedded in their mind. It is based on my new book “Authentic Governance; Aligning Personal Governance with Corporate Governance” and “Authentic Governance for Banks“. Two main endorsements for this book:
1) “Authentic Governance is a systematic, integrated, pragmatic, and innovative approach to corporate governance. By expanding traditional corporate governance concepts and integrating personal integrity and ethical leadership into one overall authentic governance framework, Dr. Hubert Rampersad gives us a new blueprint for sustainable corporate governance in which formal corporate regulations and personal values mutually reinforce each other. By unifying corporate ethics with individual ethics he has written an outstanding synthesis, which is addressed to the corporate challenges of managing in the 21st century.
2) This book makes a most useful contribution to the never ending challenge of protection from potentially catastrophic ethical failures. It serves as a practical guide and a tool kit for executives who aspire to realize ethical corporate excellence”.
Authentic Governance starts with value-based leadership development, embedding personal values in the mind of the leadership and all employees, and coaching them to sincerely reflect on these values. This is about decency and personal integrity. Authentic Governance is one of the first tangible and measurable means to create a way of life within organizations, characterized by trust, credibility, transparency, personal responsibility, personal integrity, and a high performance ethical business culture. This will have a positive impact throughout society’.
A Sustainable SolutionIt is time that we become aware that corporate governance cannot be controlled effectively with formal and exhaustive rules, regulations, guidelines, and procedures only. It’s about decency and personal integrity and this must be cultivated from within. Personal integrity has no need of rules. It must be a way of life. Remember what Plato said in 340 BC: “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws”.
Most corporate governance programs make things worse, create a stable basis for more corruption and are doomed to fail. Why don’t we learn from Plato and focus on creating a culture of good people, in which personal values are aligned with the laws and embedded in the mind of the people, instead of focusing on laws (corporate governance) only? I picked up where others left off by launching an innovative methodology for creating a culture of good leaders, managers and employees, in which high ethical values are aligned with their corporate governance rules, regulations and guidelines and embedded in their mind.
As demonstrated by Harvard University and many other organizations, traditional corporate governance codes (corporate laws) provide no protection from potentially catastrophic ethical failures. Company integrity must always start with personal integrity. It must be an informal learning process and a way of life, based on alignment with yourself and alignment with your company. This ethical process must be promoted and communicated within the whole company to all stakeholders consistently. In this way ethical behavior will become a routine in the whole organization, and leaders and employees will gain more understanding about their personal responsibility with regard to ethical behavior. They will understand that it is their responsibility to act ethically, on duty as well as off duty. This is a more sustainable, comprehensive and holistic approach to ethics and social responsibility.
Against this background, I propose an organic and holistic approach to corporate governance, by integrating personal values and integrity into one overall authentic governance framework, in which formal corporate regulations and personal values mutually reinforce each other. This theory has been borne out through my leadership experiences in the corporate world globally in the past 30 years.
Sustainable Corporate Governance
Sustainable corporate governance starts with personal leadership development, based on self-reflection and introspection and embedding personal values in the mind of the leadership and employees, and coaching them to reflect on these values honestly. It’s about values-based Leadership. Steve Jobs once remarked, “The only thing that works is management by values”. This is done, according to the authentic governance method I have launched in my new book; by coaching the leadership, managers and employees to reflect on their “personal ambitions and their alignment with their behavior and actions.” In this way good corporate governance will be a way of life, characterized by trust, credibility, transparency, personal and social responsibility, open communication and a continuous learning process, embedded in an ethical culture. This cultural shift will have a positive impact throughout society.
Authentic Governance Model
In this article I introduce a more sustainable, authentic and holistic approach to corporate governance, which I call authentic governance. I have defined authentic governance in holistic humanized terms, namely: the systematic process of continuous, gradual and routine improvement, steering, and learning, that lead to sustainable high performance and ethical excellence. I made a distinction between authentic personal governance and authentic corporate governance, which I will explain below in detail. So, authentic governance is a continuous voyage of discovery, involving continuous, gradual and routine improvement, steering, and learning. It is about a journey towards a happier and more successful life for individuals and ethical corporate excellence.
By redefining and governing themselves effectively, leaders and employees will gain more understanding about their responsibility regarding ethical behavior, and they will understand that it is their responsibility to act ethically, on duty as well as off duty. Figure 1 shows the related authentic governance model, which provides an excellent framework and roadmap to develop, implement, and cultivate personal governance and corporate governance in a systematic and sustainable way. This new governance blueprint is an inside-out approach and focuses mainly on the human side of good governance. It places more emphasis on understanding yourself and the needs of others, meet those needs while staying true to your personal and corporate values, improve yourself and your personal integrity continuously, making ethics a way of life and a continuous learning process, and align these with formal corporate regulations, procedures and guidelines, instead of focusing on exhaustive formal corporate regulations, procedures and guidelines only.
Figure 1: Authentic Governance Model (© Hubert Rampersad)
This authentic governance model consists of the following four phases (see Figure 1), which are the building blocks of sustainable corporate governance:
1. Authentic Personal Governance:
a) Personal ambition; this phase involves a soul searching process based on thought, introspection, and self-reflection, supported by a breathing and silence exercise. Question which you can ask yourself are: Who am I, What do I stand for? What makes me more ethical? What do I live for? Why do I want to lead? and What’s the purpose of my leadership? If the honest answers on the last four questions are power, prestige, and money, you may be at risk for your company. The result of this phase is the formulation of your personal mission, vision and values. On the basis of insights acquired through this process, you develop self-awareness and self-regulation, which are the foundation of trustworthiness, integrity, and openness to learn.
b) Personal Balanced Scorecard (PBS); personal ambition has no value unless you take action to make it a reality. Therefore the emphasis in this stage is developing an integrated and well balanced action plan based on your personal ambition to develop personal integrity. It’s about translating your personal ambition into action.
c) Personal governance; the next step is to implement, maintain, and cultivate your ambition and PBS to govern yourself effectively and to become a better human being. This entails personal governance; the systematic process of continuous, gradual and routine personal improvement, steering, and learning. Your PBS needs constant updating to reflect the new challenges you take, the lessons you have learned, and the growth of yourself.
2. Alignment with yourself; corporate governance will be cosmetic if personal integrity is not a way of life in your organization and if you focus mainly on ethical procedures, formal regulations, and guidelines. Therefore it’s needed to align your personal ambition with your behavior and your way of acting (see Figure 2). So you need to commit yourself to live and act according to your personal ambition and to keep promises that you make to yourself. Personal governance built on the person’s true character is sustainable and strong. You should reflect your true self and must adhere to a moral and behavioral code set down by your personal ambition. This means that who you really are, what you care about, and your passions should come out in your personal ambition, and you should act and behave accordingly (you should be yourself) to build trust. This inner alignment is an important step towards lasting personal growth and reinforcing integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, credibility, transparency, and personal charisma. People with this perspective on life value others’ lives and create a stable basis for others to feel they are credible, truthful, and trustworthy.
Figure 2: Aligning Personal Ambition with Personal Behavior and Actions
These first two stages in the authentic governance model focus on personal leadership development by cultivating your inner compass.
3. Authentic Corporate Governance:
a) Corporate ambition; this phase involves formulation the shared corporate ambition. The corporate ambition is the soul, core intention and the guiding principles of the organization and encompasses the corporate mission, vision, and core values.
b) Corporate Balanced Scorecard (CBS); the corporate ambition has no value unless you don’t take actions to make it a reality. Therefore the emphasis in this stage is developing an integrated and well balanced action plan based on the corporate ambition to realize the corporate objectives. The CBS is needed to improve the business and governance processes continuously based on the corporate ambition in order to add value to customers and satisfy them.
c) Corporate governance; the next step is to implement, maintain, and cultivate the corporate ambition and CBS in order to govern your organization effectively, to become an ethical company. This entails corporate governance: the systematic process of continuous, gradual and routine corporate improvement, steering, and learning. This stage focuses also on the implementation of formal corporate regulations, procedures and guidelines (corporate governance code). To operate in accordance with the corporate ambition and related CBS, through its implementation using the PDAC cycle, results in a journey towards sustainable and ethical business success.
4. Alignment with your organization; the emphasis here is aligning personal ambition with corporate ambition and creating uniformity of personal and organizational values. By unifying corporate ethics with individual ethics you will create a strong foundation of peace, integrity, engagement, and learning upon which creativity and growth can flourish, and life within the organization will become a more harmonious and ethical experience. It’s about aligning personal governance with corporate governance and getting the optimal fit and balance between these two activities in order to enhance labor productivity, to create a climate of trust, and to stimulate engagement, commitment, integrity, and passion in the organization. This alignment process is needed because staff members don’t work with devotion or expend energy on something they do not believe in or agree with. If there is an effective match between their interests and those of the company, and if their values and the company’s values align, they will be engaged and will work with greater commitment and dedication towards realizing the company objectives (see Figure 3). When the personnel’s personal ambition is in harmony with their company’s (are compatible) and combined in the best interest of both parties, the results will be higher productivity and sustainable corporate governance. Employees are stimulated in this way to commit, act ethically and focus on those activities that create value for clients. This will create a strong foundation of peace, personal integrity, and stability upon which creativity and growth can flourish, and life within the organization will become a more harmonious experience.
Figure 3: Matching the Personal Ambition with the Corporate Ambition
The effective combination of all these four phases creates a stable basis for a high performance ethical organization. To illustrate the importance of this authentic governance model: Of the 140 businesses recognized by the Ethisphere Institute as the 2013 World’s Most Ethical Companies, Aflac and Starbucks have received this honor every year between 2007 and 2013.They have been judged to not only have exemplary ethical standards and policies, but also consistently high ethical practices. Their corporate governance codes are not empty words (just like Harvard University), but represent active coordinates in maintaining an ethical business culture, based on effective values‑based leadership and the alignment of personal governance with corporate governance.
www.authenticgovernance.org | firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: +1-786-537-7580 |Miami, Florida, USA
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