From the Director
Ethics ponders the hard question. "What should I do?" There are no easy answers. Moral situations involve opposing values and stakeholders with competing interests. In the Philippines, political and corporate leaders operate within an entrenched culture of corruption that makes it difficult for honest men and women to survive their work environments with moral values intact.
Many of these leaders were educated in some of the finest private Catholic schools in the country. Unfortunately, a Catholic education alone is not enough to guide them when faced with an ethical dilemma in the workplace. What they need is visible and consistent institutional support.
The Gov. Jose B. Fernandez, Jr. Ethics Center
The creation of such institution was made possible by agenerous endowment from Mrs. Ma. Dulce C. Fernandez and her family. Mrs. Fernandez said that funding a Center whose mission is to help create ethical environments in business and government, is the best way of honoring her husband's unwavering commitment to accountability in business and public service. The Gov. Jose B. Fernandez, Jr. Ethics Center was launched on 8 January 2004 to respond to the needs of both private and public institutions for focused interventions that will promote an ethics culture and implement measures that will ensure ethical behavior.
The Center's main challenge is to overhaul the traditional conception that ethics is theoretical and ideal but powerless and useless in solving the real and pressing problems of the workplace. The Center has the extremely difficult task of waging war against widespread cynicism about our ability to change our institutions and ourselves. The belief is that ethics cannot measure up to deeply entrenched problems of dishonesty, corruption and disregard for the law. the Center firmly believes that while this battle is going to be long and difficult, we can win it if our vision is realistic (to be achievable) and our goals focused (to be implementable). Our mission is to slowly sensitize professionals to ethical issues, provide them with well-thought out tools for solving ethical problems and provide them the institutional support they need in fighting their ethical battles.
The Center's short-term goal is to help the Ateneo Graduate School of Business (AGSB) and the Ateneo School of Government (ASG) design courses with an ethical framework, design and implement faculty training, promote ethics research, and conduct other related scholarly activities. The experiences from both Professional Schools will then be shared with other strategically located Business and Public Management schools throughout the country. The intention is to create a network of academic institutions that can influence the training of business and government professionals.
One of its medium and long term goals is to make the Center a haven for professionals struggling with ethical dilemmas in the workplace, where their leadership stories and dilemmas can be shared and written up for the education of future leaders. It will also provide resources for individuals, groups, corporations, and government units that may need its help in developing an ethics culture. In the long term, it will be a repository of materials and the base for human resources that will support the Center's work with Business and Public Management schools.
After almost two years since its launch, the Center has helped design ethics courses and integrate ethics in all degree and executive programs of the Ateneo Graduate School of Business and School of Government. The Center has also brought workshops on teaching business ethics to universities in Metro Manila, Angeles City, Baguio City and Naga City. It has written business cases and conducted seminars and workshops for private companies and local government units. It has also established linkages with American Ethics Centers to share experiences and resources.
As we face the country's relentless problem of lack of ethical leaders, today more than ever, the work of the center is more urgent and necessary.
ANTONETTE PALMA-ANGELES, Ph.D.