‘Can capitalism be moral?’ poses Beirut business conference
‘Business needs a moral compass,’ asserted leading Lebanese businessman Antoine Frem, speaking at an international business conference in Beirut. ‘Can capitalism be moral?’ was the question posed by the conference, co-hosted by Notre Dame University’s Faculties of Humanities and Business, Beirut, in partnership with the Islamic-Christian Forum for Businessmen (MA’AM) and Initiatives of Change (IofC) on 8-9 March.
‘It is better for you to fail with honour than to succeed with fraud,’ said Frem (pictured right with Joe Hatem and Mike Smith), Chairman of Indevco Management Resources, part of an international industrial conglomerate. ‘We need a Davos of values,’ he said, referring to the World Economic Forum that meets in Davos, Switzerland, each year.
The aim of the conference was to promote best practices among business leaders and entrepreneurs, and to encourage Lebanon’s participation in the UN Global Compact. It also aimed to revive the Swiss-based Caux Round Table group of business executives in Lebanon, which was represented by Minnesota-based businessman Robert MacGregor (left).
Some 80 business students and a similar number of media students took part, alongside the business men and women, bankers, journalists and broadcasters at the conference.
Dr Kamal Abouchedid, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, and Dr Edward Alam, chairholder of the Benedict XVI Endowed Chair of Religious, Cultural and Philosophical Studies, welcomed the international participants. Dr Alam, Yussef Zgheib, Dean of the Business Faculty, Omar Sakr, business administration and economics lecturer, and Eugene Sensenig, Associate Professor of Political Science, organized and facilitated the whole event.
Professor Sofia Ghanimeh, assistant professor in the faculty of engineering, saw climate change as ‘the most pressing issue the world faces’, while Rabih Osta, Area General Manager of Phoenix, a member company of the Indevco group, emphasized the progress that Lebanon was making towards renewable energy resources by 2020.
Michael Smith, Head of Business Programmes at Initiatives of Change UK, spoke about the 10 years of annual conferences on Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy (TIGE) held at the Initiatives of Change centre in Caux, Switzerland. He cites Adam Smith’s moral philosophy which urged a sense of conscience and mutual interest, and not just the ‘invisible hand of the market’ that the Scottish economist is most remembered for.
A panel of women entrepreneurs, moderated by TV presenter and renowned business specialist Dr Hasan Youness, marked International Women’s Day on 8 March. A media panel, hosted by media studies lecturer Rouba el-Helou, stressed the need for ethical conduct in the media.
Photos by Notre Dame University