• World Biz Magazine

PREPARING LEADERS FOR NEW AND HIGHER ETHICS STANDARDS - PETER GLEASON, CEO OF NACD



It’s Time to Better Prepare Our Business Leaders for New and Higher Standards for Corporate Responsibility and Ethics, by Peter Gleason, CEO, National Association of Corporate Directors, and Marna Whittington, Board Member, Macy’s, Phillips66 Petroleum.


Stakeholders are conveying — with great urgency — that they want the corporations with which they are involved to respect and respond to the recent changes in both society and corporate culture. And they want them to do it with strong ethical leadership, appropriate sensitivity, and conscious intent.

Untold changes are underway in our society — a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But one emerging shift that’s causing singular transformation is the demand — by consumers, shareholders, and stakeholders of every kind — that corporations take on more responsibility and meet new and higher standards of business conduct.


Stakeholders are conveying — with great urgency — that they want the corporations with which they are involved to respect and respond to the recent changes in both society and corporate culture. And they want them to do it with strong ethical leadership, appropriate sensitivity, and conscious intent.


That current backdrop on corporate governance has been made clear by surveys and ongoing communications with members of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) — the nonprofit that represents more than 23,000 corporate board members, and whose mission is to empower directors and transform boards to be future-ready.


The scale and scope of these emerging demands — that corporations and their governing boards carry out multiple roles and with ever-vigilant standards for business conduct — have grown extensively and with increasing intensity over the last two-and-a-half years.


The numerous workforce, cultural, social and equity issues currently at play in the U.S. have coalesced with the continued and reverberating impacts of the pandemic — together bringing us to an inflection point in corporate governance.


Today, more is expected of Corporate America than ever before — and those in governance must be prepared.


Make no mistake - Steadfast ethical leadership, in all aspects of decision-making, is now compulsory. Today’s business executives and directors are being held to new, higher standards of conduct, leadership, and value-based decision-making.


Make no mistake - Steadfast ethical leadership, in all aspects of decision-making, is now compulsory. Today’s business executives and directors are being held to new, higher standards of conduct, leadership, and value-based decision-making.

The McGowan Fellows Program — run through the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund in partnership with the business schools of 10 leading universities — stands out for its exemplary, and intensive process for embedding Principles of Ethical Leadership in its students and future business leaders. It is MBA programs and initiatives like this that we need now — to prepare today’s developing business leaders for tomorrow.


Furthermore, the McGowan Fund recently conferred its first-ever Ethical Leader of the Year Award — which will be bestowed annually on CEOs whose actions and decision-making demonstrate genuine ethical leadership. Charles Lowrey, the long-standing Chair and CEO of Prudential, received this year’s award at the Opening Session of the 2022 Annual Conference of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in New Orleans — an exceptionally fitting venue, as SHRM’s 300,000 members are the very human resource professionals who often are responsible for identifying and retaining talent, and who frequently serve as the creators and keepers of corporate culture.


Indeed, finding ethical leaders — and supporting an ethical culture at all levels of a company ­— are central to the role of human resource professionals across all industries.


Without question, Corporate America and its directors have an enormous amount of work to do to meet the new demands being placed on those in the boardroom and C-suite. But by fully embedding and infusing the critical principles of ethical leadership into all MBA programs at all schools of business — now, and without delay — we can meaningfully advance the effort toward stronger ethical leadership across all of Corporate America.


 

Recognizing the need for formal training among America’s corporate directors in ethical leadership, NACD is expanding its training and development offerings to its 23,000+ members. NACD’s goal is to ensure that its members have access to the content and support they will need to be the effective, ethical leaders and decision-makers that our country needs, wants — and now demands.


Find out more nacdonline.org


 

Peter Gleason has been the CEO of NACD since 2017. He has served in a variety of roles during his tenure at NACD, including President, CFO, COO, Managing Director, and VP of Research and Development. Gleason is a recognized expert on board leadership and corporate governance. He serves as a member of NACD's national faculty, is regularly quoted in the media, and is a frequent presenter on the subjects of corporate governance, executive and director compensation, risk, strategic planning, and board/shareowner relations. Gleason has served as a commissioner on every NACD Blue Ribbon Commission report since joining NACD in 2000 and is an NACD Board Leadership Fellow.


He currently serves on the NACD board, the advisory board of NuraHealth, Inc., and the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), based in London. He is the immediate past chair of the Global Network of Director Institutes (GNDI) and the former chair of the International Professional Practices Framework Oversight Council of the Institute of Internal Auditors. He has served on a number of other non-profit boards.


Before joining NACD, Gleason was a management consultant with both Ernst & Young and Pritchett & Associates. He also served as vice president and director of US Research for Institutional Shareholder Services.


Gleason is a graduate of Dartmouth College and has an MBA, with concentrations in both Finance and Marketing, from Virginia Tech.


 

Dr. Marna C. Whittington is a member of the board of directors for Phillips 66. She is chair of the human resources and compensation committee and serves on the nominating and governance, public policy and sustainability, and executive committees.


Whittington was chief executive officer of Allianz Global Investors Capital, a diversified global investment firm, from 2002 until her retirement in January 2012. She was chief operating officer of Allianz Global Investors, the parent company of Allianz Global Investors Capital, from 2001 to 2011. Prior to that, she was managing director and chief operating officer of Morgan Stanley Asset Management. Whittington started in the investment management industry in 1992, joining Philadelphia-based Miller Anderson & Sherrerd.


She also serves on the board of directors of Macy’s, Inc. Whittington earned a Ph.D. and masters in Quantitative Methods from the University of Pittsburgh, and received her bachelors in Mathematics from the University of Delaware.