What do a cricket ball, one hundred dollar note and your grandma’s slippers have in common?

…they each represent an uncomfortable blot on the current ethical landscape in Australia. A series of public enquiries revealing unthinkable practices by some of our most trusted institutions, from the charging of dead people to cruelty by carers towards our most vulnerable elderly citizens.

Collectively they evidence a phenomenon we are seeing across all public life – an integrity gap: a difference between the stated integrity values of organisations and the experienced reality of their customers or users. From local councils to the Vatican the breadth and scale has been quite shocking for the average Australian, with bad news not only traveling fast but being amplified by an omnipresent social media network.

It is all adding up to an erosion of public confidence never seen before in our laid back, traditionally trusting culture and for good reason. I mean, it’s just not cricket is it?

The implications are also far-reaching. A declining trust in major political parties, public institutions, and public services along with a loss of confidence in investment which has led to the emergence of new alternatives, promising a more personalised approach. It seems that a lot of that personalisation, however, is being enabled through automation and the digitisation of personal data, which is again raising a suite of ethical and security issues.

One thing is certain, the burning issue of our time is trust. How quickly it can be lost is now clear – how it can be restored has become the million dollar question, causing scholars and business leaders alike to revisit good old fashioned ethics and its appropriate role in our modern business world. And as it appears no sector is immune to this new epidemic, multiple perspectives need to be taken in the inquiry process:

The philosophical enigma: Why do good people do bad things?

The academic challenge: How do we integrate compliance and behavioural ethics for complex modern systems?

The legal puzzle: How do we restore the paramountcy of fiduciary obligations in a world where decision makers enjoy professional indemnity insurance?

The practical dilemma: This feels wrong to me but what could I say and to whom? Nobody else seems to have a problem?

Personally, organisationally and from a systems perspective all of these questions deserve attention, now. So my final question for you is this:

What do you get when you put
a Philosopher, a Professor of Law and a Police Internal Investigations Manager
in a room at QUT’s Graduate School of Business?

A rich, trans-disciplinary conversation about these issues and the practical skills to address them. Interested? Watch this space…


Melinda was a Litigator, Professor of Law, Assistant Dean and Managing Director of her own business before joining QUTeX as a Professor of Practice. She has custom-designed corporate education programs for a range of sectors including mining and resources, the legal and medical professions, government, banking and NGOs. She also has extensive international experience including projects in Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, The Czech Republic and Papua New Guinea. Melinda teaches Negotiation, Leadership and Business Law in the Graduate MBA and EMBA programs, is an Executive Coach and also leads the Ethical Leadership in Practice Series for QUTeX.

1 Comment

  1. avatar
    Leanne Campbell Reply

    Trust in our aged care system is so paramount that it should never be broken. The fact that it has will not only take a long time to regain but cause many to rethink their options.

    On a personal note, I have moved to a property large enough to accommodate duel key residences so I can have my parents close. They have built a small home on the property and are very happy to not only to retain their independence but also have the convenience of seeing their grandchildren regularly. We are horrified at what we have seen and have made this conscious decision together.

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