Pearl Initiative (PI) held recently a first-of-its kind engaging event with 60 future business leaders at the American University of Sharjah.
Pearl Initiative is a private sector-led non-profit organisation developed in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships and dedicated to the promotion of good governance, transparency and ethical business practices in the Gulf Region of the Middle East.
Titled ‘Developing Business Ethics with the Youth of the Middle East’, the event brought corporate leaders from the region together with AUS students to debate ‘Business Ethics’, and to leap beyond ethical theory and instead expose them to some real world experiences and answering questions such as: How can you compete in today’s dynamic marketplace, while maintaining individual and organisational ethics? When theory turns to reality, how does one prevent, detect and respond to malfeasance and fraud?
Recognising that students must move beyond the safe hypotheticals of the ethics textbook, the Pearl Initiative brought along corporate leaders to debate with the students, including Charles Robson, Director of Forensic Services at KPMG Lower Gulf, and Mahmood Ahmad, Vice President of Compliance at du.
Robson presented the students with a plethora of results of surveys, including the fact that only 13 per cent of whistle-blowers in the Middle East and 50 per cent in the UK disclosed their identity; a consequence no doubt of fear of repercussion for drawing attention to fraud, or of perceived lack of loyalty.
Robson took the students through case studies of leading best practices in organisations with strong corporate governance, and explaining that the key challenge to creating a working environment with clarity, transparency etc.