By Andra Popescu
The idea of the Ryerson MBA Oath first started as a discussion in the MBA-MTI Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility class on December 2nd, 2010. A group of 30 students, led by Shane Saunderson, the President of the MBA Student Association at the time, began discussing the motivation behind such an oath and the lack of a widespread ethical standard in the field of business. The growth amongst business professionals to define such standard became more evident as students attended case competitions and industry events. Colin Kee and Matt Lindzon (Vice-President Finance and President respectively) in the 2011-12 MBA Student Association identified the need, established a CSR committee and played critical roles in this initiative. Almost two years after the initial class discussion, 41 incoming students took the CSR Pledge and 54 graduates signed the Ted Rogers School of Management MBA Oath. Here’s how this movement began.
Back in 2009, the graduating class at Harvard University created a voluntary pledge for MBA students and graduates whose purpose was to “create value responsibly and ethically”. Since then, the MBA Oath has accumulated over 6,000 signatures and has been embraced by over 300 institutions world-wide.
Here, at Ryerson, we value business ethics and CSR issues very highly, but felt that we needed something to reflect the Canadian and Ryerson situation as well as a distinction between an oath and a pledge. The MBA CSR Committee came together and created the Ted Rogers School of Management Oath/CSR Pledge duo that was adopted by the incoming class and graduating students . This idea was positively received by the MBA department and fully supported by our Dean’s office. We were delighted to get invited in front of the Ryerson Senate Priorities Committee to present and discuss the implementation of this initiative across all faculties.
The purpose of the CSR Pledge is to create student awareness and a commitment to learning about corporate social responsibility issue and business ethics throughout the Ryerson business education experience. This stems from recognition that the social responsibility dimensions of business affect all Canadians at multiple levels (i.e. individuals, students, consumers, citizens, taxpayers, etc.). The pledge is presented to students during orientation at the beginning of the program, encouraging them to learn about, understand and incorporate socially responsible values in their educational pursuit.
The Ted Rogers School of Management Oath on the other hand, is a commitment to adhering to ethical values in the business world. It is relevant to graduating MBA students as they complete their studies at Ryerson University and enter the business world as the managers of tomorrow. We wanted a product that was timely so the Harvard MBA Oath was adopted for this purpose, but a preamble was added to reflect the Canadian situation and Ryerson’s learning objectives. By signing the oath, Ryerson MBA students are making a commitment in line with the global movement towards responsible business conduct.
Since initiating the Pledge and the Oath, the MBA CSR Committee has received positive feedback from peers, faculty and Ryerson administration. We believe that it truly reflects our values and the commitment of our MBA program here at Ryerson University. We look forward to using the information learned throughout the program from classes and each other, to shape and guide our ethical efforts as managers in the future. We hope to have also inspired MBAs from past classes and from our sister programs at other universities to adopt an ethical framework to their decision-making criteria, thus promoting corporate socially responsible values in their respective organizations.
For more information on this initiative, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Andra Popescu is a current student in the Ryerson MBA program (Class of 2013) and the President of the MBA Student Association.