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Ethical Leadership

Published on October 28, 2011 by Howard Harrison

This month the firm will be hosting Julian Burnside QC as part of our Tuesday Lunchtime Speakers Series. The topic is “Ethical Leadership; Unpopular Causes”. Lawyers such as Burnside do play an important part in the community in advocating on the difficult human rights and similar issues which are always arising.
I recently attended a session of the Edmund Rice Business Initiatives Breakfast in which Danny Gilbert delivered a paper – “Reflections on Ethics in Public Life”. Some of the points made included:-
  • Healthy societies depend on widespread involvement by citizens in public affairs, community organisations and the institutions that make up our society;
  • For many people participation in their community does not go beyond any involvement with family and friends or the work place and in many ways, the work place is the important place to test our approach to ethical behaviour;
  • It is relatively easy to treat family and friends with care and politeness and “ethically”. Once you move out of this square things can be more challenging including in the work place where there can be ethical challenges around how individuals are dealt with. Danny argues the real test as to whether we are living an ethical life and making the hard calls is how we reach out to community members who are clearly disadvantaged – people who are well removed from our immediate radar screen.
The debate about ethics and leadership within a law firm and beyond are important.
We look forward to hearing from Julian Burnside QC on 31 October in which he will undoubtedly provide us with a valuable perspective on Ethical Leadership.

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