Ethics, a rising value among the new heirs of family businesses

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Can we teach ethics in the same way as finance or marketing to heirs of large families? “They ask us,” replied Morten Bennedsen, professor in charge of the André and Rosalie Hoffmann chair for Family Enterprise and academic director of the Wendel International Center at Insead. The proof? On June 13, the school’s webinar titled “Family business: a force for good?” Attracted over 400 participants from 57 countries. “Philanthropy has existed for a long time in the great dynasties, he recalls. Today, the question is no longer how the money is distributed, but also how it is earned.” A more complex moral duty, especially if the family business is listed or in the hands of hundreds of heirs.

Cement between generations

“The young generation is putting pressure on parents to invent business models that integrate human rights, gender equality or global warming”, notes Natalia Olynec, responsible for sustainable development at IMD in Lausanne, a great school expert in family entrepreneurship. According to Peter Vogel, director of the Global Family Business Center, a new type of very large donors is emerging, who want to make a real impact on the world. “At the request of banks which manage large fortunes, we are building specific programs for the children of their clients in order to train them in a more respectful approach to business for the world around them.” This involves study trips to Peru or Kenya for the students of the Executive MBA.

“Ethics permeates all of our courses, with the study of practical cases such as Enron,” says Anne-Claire Pache, professor at Essec in social innovation and holder of the philanthropy chair. In this school, extra-financial accounting, which is not based on economic performance alone, will be taught at the start of the school year. And the module Responsible leadership became mandatory. “[…]

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