n three upcoming seminars, Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business is helping local professionals address such challenges as implementing environmentally sustainable business practices and conducting ethical business in China.

“This is what decision makers at global companies tell us are among their highest priorities today,” said John Knapp, director of the Southern Institute for Business and Professional Ethics that was integrated into the Robinson College earlier this year.

The first of three seminars is to begin Thursday, June 21, with a day-long session entitled “Beyond Greening: Transforming Your Company for Environmental Sustainability” that will run from 8:30 a.m. — 4:30 p.m. at Buckhead Executive Education Center, J. Mack Robinson College, Two Tower Place.

The second session addresses some of the challenges of doing business ethically in China and will be held Thursday, July 26, from 8:30 a.m. — 4 p.m. The final session will be held Thursday, Aug. 30, from 4 — 7 p.m. and will look at how population, governance, technological innovation and other factors are expected to change the global business landscape by 2025.

The institute has been working on ethical issues facing business for more than 15 years as an independent community-based initiative founded by local business leaders.

Executives and senior leadership from such entities as Equifax Corp., the Georgia Supreme Court, the Office of the Governor, Russell Corp., SunTrust Banks Inc., United Parcel Service Inc. and others sit on the institute’s board of governors, directing its content and mission.

The institute has also collaborated with Clemson University, Columbia Theological Seminary, University of Wales in the United Kingdom, in addition to Georgia State.

But this is the first year that it has been fully incorporated into an academic program, which Dr. Knapp thinks adds value to both Georgia State and the institute, since it brings together business scholars and business practitioners.

“We really are unique in the sense that this was an institute that was founded by the business community, and now that we’re a part of an academic institution, we really operate at the nexus of theory and practice,” he told GlobalAtlanta.

Since opening the institute in the 1993, Dr. Knapp has seen an increase in the number of businesspeople who are concerned about their ethical business practices.

Regulatory guidelines that call for greater accountability and transparency have businesspeople more interested in ethics than ever before. But a greater societal mistrust of business has also called for an increased emphasis on its ethical practices, he said.

“Trust in institutions has been declining for several decades, and now people want proof. They want to see data that says a business is ethical. And this creates a whole new facet of business,” said Dr. Knapp.

He also believes that a new generation of CEOs, many of whom are more “environmentally astute” than their predecessors, is also changing businesses’ approach to ethics. And once a company takes on environmentally responsible practices, other businesses follow suit.

“As more companies adopt the ethics of sustainability, they demand that of their suppliers,” he said.

The first session will ask participants to imagine they are an executive at an auto-manufacturing company and are charged with making the company more environmentally sustainable.

As in all three sessions, participants will also hear from senior-level businesspeople dealing with similar ethical issues in their own enterprises.

In addition to summer seminars, the institute is collaborating with Georgia State professors to develop business ethics classes for Robinson College students.

The institute also has plans to collaborate with Georgia State-affiliated programs in Pretoria, South Africa.

Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories
Southern Institute for Business and Professional Ethics – (404) 413-7420.

Georgia State University Summer Seminar Series