Business Ethics Conference

2014 Business Ethics Conference


L-R: Conference academic speakers: Dr. Michael Naughton Fr. Oliver Williams, CSC, Dr. Mary Gentile, Dr. Kenneth Goodpaster and Dr. George Brenkert

L-R:  Conference academic speakers:  Dr. Michael Naughton, Fr. Oliver Williams, C.S.C., Dr. Mary Gentile, Dr. Kenneth Goodpaster and Dr. George Brenkert

Business school deans from 23 Catholic universities gathered in Houston on March 31 for a groundbreaking business ethics conference hosted by the University of St. Thomas-Houston’s Center for Faith and Culture in collaboration with the Cameron School of Business. Spurred by the sobering implications of the 2008 financial meltdown, and guided by Pope Benedict’s call in the encyclical Caritas in Veritate for financiers to “rediscover the genuine ethical foundation” of their work, the three-day conference was convened by the Center for Faith and Culture to explore ways to better prepare graduates from Catholic business schools for the ethical challenges they will encounter in the workplace, organizers said.

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Speaker and Working Group Videos

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Michael Czerny S.J. - Give us this day our daily bread: Putting ethics to work in business

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Michael Czerny S.J.

Give us this day our daily bread: Putting ethics to work in business

The abstract below was originally written by Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson who is no longer able to serve as keynote speaker for the conference due to an extraordinary meeting called by the Holy Father on April 1. Fr. Czerny will relay Cardinal Turkson’s thoughts expressed in the abstract below, and he will make reference to how those thoughts connect to the proceedings of the conference.

The business of business schools is to teach how to make good decisions, and decisions are good when guided by good values. So ethics must be at the heart of business education. And yet, many people acknowledge a real gap – if not an utter chasm – between the orientation they receive from their faith “on Sunday” and the ways in which they make their “Monday-to-Friday” work decisions.

The on-going financial and monetary crisis that began in 2008 teaches a bitter and hugely costly lesson. Unethical choices in business, banking and finance have disastrous consequences for all stakeholders, including national economies, financial institutions, many members of the public and especially the poor (cf. the Pontifical Council's Note, Towards reforming the international financial and monetary systems...).

Against this rather grim background, the Council's handbook Vocation of the Business Leader seeks to impart how to live one's Sunday faith in Monday-to-Friday's decisions. Such ethical decisions will directly and cumulatively contribute to the integral human development taught so persuasively by Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Meanwhile Pope Francis goes beyond the statistics to decry the fact that the global market, even when functioning fairly well (e.g., halving the number of those living in abject poverty), is leaving out at least a billion of the world’s population. He challenges economists, financial and business leaders, and business schools by extension, to create economies of inclusion at every level, from global to local.

So, as we pray “give us this day our daily bread,” our prayer cannot possibly mean bread for us but not for “them”.


Fr. Michael F. Czerny S.J. was born in Czechoslovakia in 1946 and raised in Montreal where he attended Loyola High School. In 1963 he entered the Society of Jesus, the English Canada Province and was ordained in 1973. He did graduate studies at the University of Chicago in an inter-disciplinary programme in humanities, social thought and theology and earned the doctorate in 1978.

Fr. Czerny was the founding director of the Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice, Toronto (1979-1989) which sought to implement Catholic Social Teaching in a variety of domestic and international issues.

After the 1989 assassination of the Jesuits at the Central American University (UCA) in San Salvador, he became Director of its Human Rights Institute (1990-1991) and Vice-Rector of the UCA (1991). He contributed to the U.N.-mediated negotiations which brought an end to the civil war in 1991.

For eleven years Fr. Czerny served as Secretary for Social Justice at the Jesuit General Curia, Rome (1992-2002). He participated in the 1995 XXXIV General Congregation and in a three-man United Nations fact-finding mission to Haiti

From 2002 to 2010, he served as founding director of the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) which assists Jesuits, in some 30 countries of the continent, to respond to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in an effective, evangelical and coordinated manner.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI named him adiutor (expert) to the II Synod of Bishops for Africa, and since 2010 he has been serving as advisor and assistant to the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. 

Harry J. Longwell - Sustaining an Ethical Culture – A Lifetime Experience

Harry J. Lonwell

Sustaining an Ethical Culture – A Lifetime Experience

This discussion will summarize the speaker’s experiences in many institutions dealing with ethical behavior and the development of Best Practices which ultimately translate to Conditions of Work in well managed successful companies over the long term.


Harry Longwell retired as a director and executive vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation in Dallas after more than 41 years with the company.  His primary responsibilities included the corporation’s worldwide oil, gas, coal, and minerals exploration and production activities, and human resources.  

A native of Alexandria, Louisiana, Mr. Longwell graduated from Louisiana State University (LSU) in 1963 with a petroleum engineering degree and began his career as a drilling engineer in Exxon Company, U.S.A.’s (Humble) production office in New Orleans.  After a number of assignments in Louisiana, California, Texas, Europe, New York, and New Jersey, he was named president of Exxon Company, U.S.A. in 1992.  He was elected senior vice president of the corporation and director in 1995.  He was named executive vice president of the corporation in 2001.

Mr. Longwell is chairman of the Board of Visitors of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.  Mr. Longwell is a member of the Legion of Honor of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and the All-American Wildcatters and serves on the Finance Council of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.  Among many other professional, civic, and philanthropic activities over the years, Mr. Longwell has served on the board of trustees of University of St. Thomas in Houston and as chairman of the board of trustees of University of Dallas.  Mr. Longwell received an honorary doctor of science degree from LSU in August 2004 and was named Alumnus of the Year in 2005. 

Mr. Longwell and his wife, Norma, have been married for 52 years and have four sons, three daughters by love and five grandchildren.  

Bethany McLean - Why All the Devils are Here: Studies of Business Gone Wrong

Bethany McLean

Why All the Devils are Here: Studies of Business Gone Wrong

Bethany McLean will explore the question, Why Does Business Go Wrong?   Drawing on almost two decades of covering business for Fortune, Vanity Fair, and Reuters, she will look at the culture of the business world through the lens of notable failures and/or problems such as Enron, the 2008 financial crisis (including Countrywide, Goldman Sachs, and Merrill Lynch), MF Global, and SAC Capital.   She’ll look at the gap between official statements of ethics and the actual culture of companies, as well as the gap between how most people think wrongdoing will present itself, and how it actually does.   She will also explore the limitations of both prospective attempts at regulation and after-the-fact enforcement actions, as well as the limitations of courses in ethics. 


Bethany McLean is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.  She graduated from Williams College in 1992 with a double major in math and English, and spent the next three years working as an investment banking analyst at Goldman Sachs.  In 1995, she joined Fortune Magazine as a reporter, and eventually became an editor-at-large.   Her 2001 piece, "Is Enron Overpriced?" was one of the first skeptical articles about Enron, and after the company collapsed into bankruptcy, she co-authored the "Smartest Guys in the Room:  The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron" with her Fortune colleague Peter Elkind.   A documentary based on the book was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006.   In 2008, McLean joined Vanity Fair as a contributing editor.  Her recent book, which she co-authored with New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, is "All the Devils are Here:  The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis."   She is also a columnist for Reuters and a contributor at CNBC. 

Sherron Watkins – Ethical Lessons from the Enron Scandal

Sherron Watkins

Ethical Lessons from the Enron Scandal

Sherron Watkins will speak on the ethical and leadership failures at the Enron Corporation, which collapsed into bankruptcy in December 2001.  Enron was once the 7th largest public company in America, based on total revenues; when it collapsed, it was the country's largest bankruptcy.  Sherron is better known as the Enron whistleblower who alerted Enron's CEO, Ken Lay, to accounting problems, warning him of her fear that the company would collapse in a wave of accounting scandals.  She will share her insights as to what went wrong not only at Enron but with much of the whole system that the equity markets rely on to function properly.  She will discuss the importance of ethical corporate leadership and the warning signs of a problem with the tone at the top. And she will speak of her actions and her life after the toxic label 'whistleblower.'  The importance of a robust system of checks and balances within an organization (or a country) is now her vital concern, as without one, a system harboring and/or cultivating disease must rely on whistleblowers, a failsafe that rarely accomplishes its goal and destroys much.


Sherron Watkins is the former Vice President of Enron Corporation.  She has testified before Congressional Committees from the House and Senate investigating Enron’s demise.  TIME magazine named Sherron, along with two others, Coleen Rowley of the FBI and Cynthia Cooper of WorldCom, as their 2002 Persons of the Year, for being “people who did right just by doing their jobs rightly.”  She has received numerous other honors, including Court TV's Scales of Justice Award, the National Academy of Management's Distinguished Executive Award, and the Women's Economic Round Table's Rolfe Award for Educating the Public about Business and Finance.  Now an independent speaker and consultant, she is co-author of Power Failure, the Inside Story of the Collapse of Enron, (Doubleday, 2003).

Rev. Oliver Williams, C.S.C. – The Purpose of Business: The Basic Issue

Rev. Oliver Williams, c.s.c.

The Purpose of Business: The Basic Issue

In Centesiumus Annus, paragraph 35, John Paul II reiterates a central tenet of Catholic Social Teaching: “…the purpose of the business firm is not simply to make a profit, but is to be found in its very existence as a community of persons who are endeavoring to satisfy their basic needs, and who form a particular group at the service of the whole society.” This key insight also underlies the recent document Vocation of the Business Leader: A Reflection (paragraph 53).

Rev. Oliver Williams, c.s.c. will argue that much of the unethical behavior in business stems from the single-minded pursuit of profit as the purpose of business and that this unbalanced pursuit of purpose can be corrected by a spirituality which helps us see business behavior in the context of the larger human picture. When the purpose of business is seen as the creation of value for all stakeholders, business can serve the common good and contribute not only to the material well-being of society but also its spiritual enhancement.


Father Williams is the editor or author of 15 books, as well as numerous articles on business ethics in journals. He is the director of the Center for Ethics and Religious Values in Business in Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. A former Naval Officer, Father Williams is a Catholic priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross. He served as associate provost of Notre Dame from 1987-94 and is a past chair of the Social Issues Division of the Academy of Management. In 2006, he was appointed a member of the three-person Board of Directors at the United Nations Global Compact Foundation. The United Nations Global Compact is the world’s largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative with more than 6,000 businesses around the world as members.

Dr. Kenneth Goodpaster and Dr. Michael Naughton - The Calling of Catholic Business Schools: From Transactional to Transformational Education

The Calling of Catholic Business Schools: From Transactional to Transformational Education.

Business ethics courses are an important contribution to the mission of a Catholic business school.  They can, however, when isolated from the rest of the curriculum, serve as curricular fig leaves while overlooking the signals that students are getting from their complete business school experience. What is also needed is a critical mass of faculty who actively take ownership of a school’s distinctive mission.  The Vocation of the Business Leader serves as an important document in helping to shape the character of Catholic business education.  We will speak from the context of this document as we seek to describe what is necessary for a faculty to own a school’s mission (life cycle process).  


Kenneth GoodpasterKenneth Goodpaster earned his A.B. in mathematics from the University of Notre Dame and his A.M. and Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Michigan. Goodpaster taught moral philosophy at the University of Notre Dame throughout the 1970s and business ethics at the Harvard Business School faculty throughout the 1980s.  In 1990, Goodpaster accepted the David and Barbara Koch Endowed Chair in Business Ethics at the University of St. Thomas (MN). His book, Conscience and Corporate Culture, has received generous praise from reviewers (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007).  Recently released was the much-anticipated history Corporate Responsibility: The American Experience for which Goodpaster served as Executive Editor (Cambridge University Press, 2012).  He is currently collaborating with his business ethics colleagues at St. Thomas on the 3rd edition of the Wiley Encyclopedia of Management volume on Business Ethics.





Dr. Michael NaughtonMichael Naughton is the holder of the Alan W. Moss Endowed Chair in Catholic Social Thought at the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) where he is a full professor with a joint appointment in the departments of Catholic Studies and the Opus College of Business.  He is the director of the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought, at the Center for Catholic Studies. He is the author and editor of nine books and over 30 articles.  He currently serves as board chair for Reell Precision Manufacturing (for profit) and board member for Seeing Things Whole (non-profit).

Dr. Mary Gentile – Giving Voice to Values: The “How” of Business Ethics

Dr. Mary Gentile

Giving Voice to Values​: The “How” of Business Ethics

Mary C. Gentile, PhD will share a ground-breaking new approach to preparing business managers for values-driven leadership. Drawing on both the actual experience of business practitioners as well as cutting edge research, GIVING VOICE TO VALUES (GVV) fills a long-standing and critical gap in our understanding of how to enable ethical practice. Rather than a focus on ethical analysis, GVV focuses on ethical implementation and asks the question: “What if I were going to act on my values? What would I say and do? How could I be most effective?” 

GVV was launched by The Aspen Institute and Yale School of Management, and is now housed and funded by Babson College. Developed by Gentile, a veteran of Harvard Business School and pioneer in both ethics and diversity management curriculum, GVV has now been piloted in over 500 educational and corporate settings.  Giving Voice to Values holds the promise to transform the foundational assumptions upon which the teaching of business ethics is based, and importantly, to equip future business leaders to not only know what is right — but how to make it happen.


Dr. Gentile is Director of Giving Voice to Values (GVV), Senior Research Scholar at Babson College, Senior Advisor at Aspen Institute Business & Society Program, and an independent consultant on management education and leadership development. 

Giving Voice to Values (, a pioneering business curriculum for values-driven leadership, has been featured in  Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, Stanford Social Innovation Review, McKinsey Quarterly, etc. and piloted in over 500 business schools and organizations globally. The award-winning book  is Giving Voice To Values: How To Speak Your Mind When You Know What's Right  (Yale University Press) (

From 1985 --95, Gentile was faculty member and manager of case  research at Harvard Business School. Gentile was one of  the principal architects of HBS’s Leadership, Ethics and Corporate Responsibility curriculum.  She co-authored Can  Ethics Be Taught? Perspectives, Challenges, and Approaches at Harvard  Business School and was Content Expert for the award-winning interactive CD-ROM, Managing Across Differences (Harvard Business School Publishing).

Other publications include Differences That Work: Organizational Excellence through Diversity; Managing Diversity: Making Differences WorkManagerial Excellence Through Diversity: Text and Cases, as well as numerous articles, cases, and book reviews in publications such as Academy of Management Learning and Education, Harvard Business Review, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Risk Management, CFO, The Journal of Human Values, BizEd, Strategy+Business,  etc.

Gentile earned her bachelor’s degree from The College of William and Mary and her MA and PhD from State University of New York at Buffalo

Dr. George Brenkert – We Have Seen This Movie Before: But Can We Change Its Ending?

Dr. George Brenkert

We Have Seen This Movie Before: But Can We Change Its Ending?

Through the past several decades of business ethics scandals and crises, as well as the business ethics movement itself, we have learned a number of things about the ethical problems in business we face:

  1. The ethical problems at the heart of these scandals and crises are not simply individual or cognitive, but also matters of organizational design and governance.
  2. Business ethical problems are not separate from our social and political views.
  3. The academic material and culture of too many business schools undercut the ethical messages they pronounce.
  4. Lying behind these individual and organizational problems are systemic problems of the market and culture.

This presentation is intended to forestall easy solutions to problems of business ethics and to challenge participants to dig deeper and more widely into how we must confront these problems.  The response of business schools must involve the pedagogy not only of business ethics but also other core areas of business, the culture of business schools, and outreach to business and the community.


George G. Brenkert, PhD is Professor Emeritus of Business Ethics at the McDonough School of Business of Georgetown University.  He is former President of the Society for Business Ethics, past Editor-in-Chief of “Business Ethics  Quarterly”, and an academic fellow of the Ethics  Resource Center.  He serves on the editorial review boards of Business Ethics Quarterly, Business and Society Review, and Business Ethics: A European Review.  He received his doctorate from the University of Michigan.  He has published Marketing Ethics (Blackwell) and is a co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Business Ethics”.  He has also published Political Freedom (Routledge) and Corporate Integrity and Accountability (SAGE).  He has published numerous articles pertaining to business ethics and corporate social responsibility.  He is a co-founder of the Trans-Atlantic Business Ethics Conference, a group of business ethicists from both sides of the Atlantic that meets bi-yearly, and a co-organizer of the Capitol Area Business Ethics Network, an association of ethics officers from profit, non-profit and government organizations in the Washington, D.C. area.

Academic Speakers Panel Discussion – Best Practices for the Teaching of Business Ethics

Best Practices for the Teaching of Business Ethics

After giving their individual presentations, the conference’s academic speakers gathered for a Panel Discussion on the topic of best practices for the teaching of business ethics. The speakers answered questions from an audience that included business deans, ethics professors, business practitioners and members of the media. The panel includes Rev. Oliver Williams, C.S.C., Dr. Michael Naughton, Dr. Mary Gentile and Dr. George Brenkert. Dr. Kenneth Goodpaster was not able to participate in the discussion due to a scheduling conflict.

Working Group Presentations – Discussions on Improving Business Ethics Instruction and Strategies for Implementing Changes

Discussions on Improving Business Ethics Instruction and Strategies for Implementing Changes

The attending business deans, ethics professors, speakers and industry observers were divided into seven Working Groups each between five and seven members, and two Working Group Sessions were held. In Session 1, groups discussed ways to improve the instruction of business ethics for students. In Session 2, groups discussed strategies for implementing changes within their institutions. Following each session, the seven groups each gave a five-minute presentation on their group’s discussion, and Dr. Beena George concluded this portion of the conference with a summary of the Working Group presentations. Dr. George is the Dean of the Cameron School of Business, University of St. Thomas – Houston.

Here are the discussion prompts that were presented to each Working Group:

Session 1 Prompts:

  1. In light of serial financial scandals culminating in the Financial Crisis, what “gaps” can be identified in content, both conceptual and practical, in current Catholic business ethics curricula?  Please consider both longstanding topics which now should receive more attention and new topics highlighted by the Financial Crisis. 
    • Please group the gaps identified between those pertaining primarily to senior leaders versus those most pertinent to new and midcareer employees.
  2. In light of your discussion from Question 1, what specific pedagogical approaches could be employed to make business ethics instruction more impactful and to close “gaps” just identified?
    • Please consider here issues such as the following:
      1. The unique advantages enjoyed by Catholic institutions as regards taking the lead in business ethics pedagogy
      2. Best practices being employed at specific schools, including secular institutions, which have the most potential to influence students’ behavior after they enter the workplace
      3. How best to embed ethics instruction within all disciplines covered by the MBA core curriculum

Session 2 Prompts:

  1. In light of the findings from Session 1, what specific changes and innovations should be recommended for future business ethics instruction at Catholic institutions?
    • Please identify and group measures recommended for immediate implementation versus those to be incorporated over time
  2. In considering how to implement these recommendations, what resistance/opposition is most likely to materialize?  Then consider where support is likely to be found and what ‘change management’ strategies might be most effective.
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Center for Faith and Culture Cameron School of Business​​