The FRED Leadership Forum will convene in New York, NY at the Time Warner Conference to inspire the development of principled, transformative leaders who make the world a better place, October 3 – 5, 2017.
With our local host, Time Warner, join us as we explore this year’s theme, Inspiring Voices, in the city that never sleeps.
Senior Client Partner, CEO & Executive Development
“Transformative Leadership: Pause, Purpose and Performance”
Monday, October 2, 2017
8:30am – 12:00pm
The Downtown Room
Time Warner Center
Senior Partner, Full Circle Group & The Leadership Circle
“The Conscious Practice of Leadership”
Monday, October 2, 2017
1:30pm – 5:00pm
The Downtown Room
Time Warner Center
For more Information and to register please see 2017 Pre-Conference Sessions under the FRED FORUM 2017 Tab.
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer
Johnson & Johnson
Co-Host, CNN, New Day
Professor of Ethics
University of Virginia
ED FREEMAN PREVIEW
We need to “shout out” the new story of ethical business
By Bill Taylor
Ed Freeman has a simple dream of a better future. “I hope my grandchildren and great-grandchildren would grow up in a world where business ethics is not seen as a joke.”
Nearly a decade after the 2008 financial crisis, the idea of a healthy future for ethical capitalism may seem far fetched. But not to Freeman. “There’s a movement towards thinking of business as being purpose driven, where ethics are at least as important as profits,” he says. “I see a lot of it in practice, but I don’t see it much reported. For every Enron, for every VW, there are ten thousand businesses out there trying to do the right thing. But the old story has a strong grip on people.”
Professor Freeman is working to change that, as he has done all of his professional life as a philosopher and teacher. His latest book, due out next year, is tentatively called The New Story of Business. It sets out some of the foundation stones of a new era of socially responsible capitalism. They include:
- Business creates value for all stakeholders. “It’s not just about transactions. Any business worth its salt creates a relationship with customers, suppliers, employees, communities and people with the money.”
- These relationships are interdependent. “If you create value for customers, then that affects how you create value for employees and communities and so on.”
- Businesses need profits to survive, but cannot truly flourish without a sense of purpose. “Entrepreneurs have some vision or dream or idea they want to share with the rest of the world.”
- Business is deeply embedded in societal institutions. “You can’t pretend it’s separate from the health service, the government, etc. Purpose, values and ethics are important.”
- Business is a physical activity in the world. “And that means you can’t pretend issues like climate change will just go away.”
People in companies need to shout out the new story, says Freeman. “There’s always going to be scandal, but it doesn’t follow from scandal that you condemn all business. The world is complicated. As a parent, I make some mistakes, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a good parent.
“Businesses with imagination are finding new or better ways to serve. If you actually look more deeply, most companies are trying to be good citizens.”
How we frame the new story matters a lot, says Freeman. And changing the deeply embedded old stories of capitalism can be slow going. But he learned a simple and profound lesson from setting up a record label with his musician son. “If you play it over and over, people remember the tune.”
For the past thirty years, Professor Freeman has taught at the Darden School of Business in the University of Virginia. He is senior fellow of the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics, academic director of the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics and academic director of the Institute for Business in Society. He also teaches at other universities all over the world, notably in Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia and the United Kingdom.
He is an optimist about the reforming potential of purpose driven business. The more you can create great businesses, the more pressure you put on the political system. “One role of government is to facilitate value creation. Infrastructure matters a lot; health care matters a lot; civil rights turn out to be an enormous facilitator of value creation because it makes people available for work. Policies that encourage kids to be entrepreneurs are really important.”
When Freeman wrote his first paper on stakeholder value back in the Seventies, the publishers assumed there was a typo in the title. “You mean shareholder. We’ll change it for you.” Now it is business leaders and banks in America – along with leading State-level politicians – who are most vocal in opposing President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. “There’s been a significant change in my lifetime.”
Professor Freeman believes the future needs a combination of fierce determination and incredible humility, a lesson he learned from martial arts. “I didn’t start Tae Kwon Do till I was forty-five. It was very, very hard for me. After two or three years, my ability to focus and get stuff done increased by an order of magnitude. One thing you have control over is your attitude. I learned some incredible humility from my teachers and that is something I will always cherish.”
Sitting close to the heart of Freeman’s work is the idea that storytelling can help transform our deeply embedded old ideas about the nature of capitalism. He will be challenging Fred Leadership Forum to help “shout out” the new story of ethical leadership until it becomes the norm.
Lecyca Curiël (1998) is an expert on Gen Z – her own generation. She works as a keynote
speaker and researcher for WHETSTON / strategic foresight. Although she is still a
teenager, she has the stage presence, charisma and humor to keep a large
corporate audience on the edge of their seats.
Lecyca is also a student, currently enrolled in a trainee program to become a
presenter for The Persgroep, an international media company. In 2018, she will
start studying at Erasmus University College. Lecyca is also an ambassador for nonprofit organisation IMC Weekendschool and intern at the Women2Women
International Leadership Conference in 2016 and 2017.
WHETSTON is an international think tank on future human behaviour. How is the
world changing? How can we expect human behaviour to change? And what does
this mean for the strategy of organisations? WHETSTON specializes in giving
memorable keynotes & workshops at global organisations and conferences.
Gen Z on Gen Z
Are you ready for the REAL next generation? Move over Millennials, we have heard
too much about you for too long. Welcome Gen Z! These are the 0 to 20 year olds.
And yes, they are different. These modest entrepreneurial teens have entered the
world of work years ago. Wise beyond their years, they approach the world with a
raw & fresh perspective. Understanding the main characteristics of Gen Z will prove
to be a wake-up call to any future oriented professional that’s creating a brave new