Notice of Caux Round Table 2022 Global Dialogue at Mountain House in Caux, Switzerland

In partnership with the Initiatives of Change Business and Economy Program, we are planning on a Global Dialogue at Mountain House in Caux, Switzerland, for July 30 and 31, 2022.  Most participants have, in the past, arrived on Friday before the meeting and then leave the following Monday.

If you have never been to Mountain House, travel is quite easy.  At the Geneva Airport, (or train station if you arrive by train) you buy a train ticket for Caux and then catch a train for Montreux. The trip is about an hour, as I remember, or less.  Once at the Montreux station, you walk via an underpass to another platform to catch a cog wheeled train up the mountainside to Caux, a small hamlet.  Then, you walk 2 minutes to Mountain House.

Alternatively, the drive from Geneva to Caux is easy and well-marked.

Mountain House has been the setting for many sessions on reconciliation since opening as a conference center after WWII.  The first sessions brought former enemies from France and Germany together and laid a moral foundation for the European Union.  In 1986, Mountain House welcomed business leaders from Japan, Europe and the U.S. to confront and rise above trade rivalries in the first gathering of the Caux Round Table.

Today, as we shift from one era – the post-WWII order seeking international comity and peaceful idealism – to something, as yet, undefined, but, perhaps, a return to the realpolitik of nation state willful self-assertion and geo-political rivalries among economies and cultures – dialogue and reconciliation is still most needed.

Please join us to make your personal contribution to the legacy of Mountain House.  You may find the proposed agenda for the Global Dialogue here.

We will confirm the agenda, conference fee and accommodation costs later.

Please do save the date.

Caux Round Table Publishes Very Timely and Important Book on Integrity and Leadership in Business

I am very excited to announce that the Caux Round Table has just published on Amazon a new book, Integrity in Business and Society, authored by our colleague, Klaus Leisinger.  We are especially honored that Klaus gave us permission to publish his book.  Integrity in Business and Society is one of the very best books I have read on business ethics.  It provides an intellectually astute and experientially confirmed theoretical foundation for moral capitalism.

To make Klaus’ ideas available to readers around the world, especially students in business programs and line managers, we have priced it at $15.00 (USD), while the Kindle version is $9.99 (USD).  Most business books and especially academic books on ethics are much more expensive.  I am trusting that many potential readers are price sensitive and so will be eager to buy Klaus’s book.

You can buy the book here.

Since the age of 14, Klaus has worked, first as an unskilled helper in a mail-order house and later as an unskilled laborer in a house building.  He later worked in soap production and road construction and then as a truck driver.  It was all heavy and partly dirty work and always poorly paid.  But then, how else could he pay his way in life?

Klaus told me he learned one important lesson: whenever a supervisor was kind and respected the dignity of the employees and workmen, they were happier doing their work and time passed faster than under conditions where the bosses were rude, abusing their power to press out the last drop of energy.

Later, when a student, Klaus, by chance, met Samuel Koechlin, the CEO of Geigy.  Koechlin was an enlightened, open-minded person and asked that Klaus come by his office.  Koechlin told him that a good company needs unorthodox thinking and gave him the task for his next semester holidays to write a business policy for Africa.  Next, Koechlin asked Klaus to write a corporate policy for the developing world.  In 1974, the board of the now-merged Ciba-Geigy, accepted a “third world policy” stipulating a special responsibility of those who have broader shoulders and deeper knowledge.

For Ciba-Geigy, Klaus chose pharmaceuticals and spent 4 years as CEO of the regional pharma office in Nairobi, being responsible for Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and Mauritius.  Daily, he confronted absolute poverty, unnecessary sickness and human misery, but also the absolute necessity to earn a profit for his employer.  Working under those conditions taught Klaus that business enterprises can do much more than being financially successful if and when corporate leaders want to.  Businesses can be a force for good for the poorest half of the world’s population and for sustainable development.

With some emotion, Klaus once told me that if there is a will of enlightened business leaders to use corporate knowledge, skills, as well as products and services also for those being left behind, if those leaders are willing to build bridges across to people of goodwill closeted in other societal silos, then business can help solve complex problems we are faced with.

Here are my thoughts on why you should buy Klaus’ book:

Klaus Leisinger’s book is for you, personally.  Klaus makes operational high concepts and deep wisdom.  Perhaps his most important contribution to our finding success and meaning in life is “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”  As Shakespeare put it: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that ….”

Here is what you can learn from his book:

Chapter 1: Trust

Lack of trust leads to troubles and losses.  Building trust leads to success and well-being.  Creating trust is how you stand up to volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA).

Chapter 2: Semantic Clarity

Where do morals start and ethics begin?   Morality can be mapped as the norms we follow or don’t follow.  What are the norms of your communities: family, religious congregation, workplace, political party, ethnic heritage, nation?

Ethics is how we think about norms – indifferently, badly, or with excellence. And who does your thinking about ethics – you or those you follow?
And where are values?  What are the specific ideas and ideals which guide your behaviors and shape decisions?

Chapter 3: The Question of Ethics

This chapter is one-stop shopping to learn about ethics.

Ethics is the bridge between the ideal and the real.  It demands knowledge of facts, good judgment about the future and an understanding of causation – what will happen if I do “x?”

Great thinkers have given advice on how to cross this bridge and unite the real with an ideal – Aristotle; Immanuel Kant; Adam Smith; the Catholic Church in its social teachings; Karl Jaspers; Hans Kung; Jurgen Habermas; John Rawls; and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

There are bridge crossings seeking to do one’s duty or seeking to make the world better, arising from our personal character or just trying to be a good person, responding to the immediate, in all its complexity and uncertainty.

We need ethics at the level of action – do it now – and at the level of order – systems and institutions – that attempt to screen out the unethical and draw their members closer to the ethical.

The best way forward is for you to get to the heart of the matter: treat others decently, respectfully and mindfully, just as you expect to be treated by them.

Chapter 4: Division of Labor

Think intentionally about who has what responsibilities, rights and duties.  An organization is an arrangement of offices – positions of trust, not a gaggle of self-seeking opportunists.  Every office has ethical responsibilities.  What you might ask is is the “office” of a company or of the state?  Do individuals, by the way, have their own “offices?”  Fairness in the creation and arrangement of offices leads to greater success in collaboration and getting good results.  This is where governance has its place.

Chapter 5: Levels of Responsibility

Priorities must be set – some things are more important than others.  Some things “must” be done.  Others “should” be done and still other matters “can” be done if we really want to or just act on a whim or with very good intentions to go above and beyond the call of duty. Achievement must follow from purpose and some purposes are better than others.  You need a warm heart and a cool head.

Chapter 6: Relationships with Stakeholders

Dialogue ethics and discourse drive win/win relationships with stakeholders.  Enlightened people talk with others about differing perceptions of reality, different value hierarchies and different interests.  Dialogue and engagement provide intelligence as to what the future has in store for you.  Who are your primary stakeholders?  Who is secondary?  Who is tertiary?  Are claimants for company attention and solicitude legitimate stakeholders or are they just making waves?

Chapter 7: Character and Personality

People decide what is right, so the character of those who hold office drives the course of events. Character is the arena wherein ethics lives or dies.  The character of being able to trust and, in turn, of being trustworthy; the character to assume responsibility and not pass the buck; and the character to care and show respect brings ethics into its proper place in decision-making and policy.  Character builds culture and culture builds character.  You can’t have one without the other.

Chapter 8: The Business Case

Go beyond the legal minimum.  Think big and reach out to others.  Show goodwill.  In business, being good does not bring market success if it is not aware of and responsive to conditions and to reality.  Integrity is holistic.  Its ethical stance finds a fitness for good intentions with the environment.  However, raising the ethical quality of business decisions does, on the whole, have positive effects on sales and profits; scandals are avoided; returns are reliable.  Employee commitment seems directly correlated to the company’s ethical culture, its purpose and the values it rewards.

Please buy Klaus’s book and then, after you’ve read it, let Klaus and I know what you think.

Again, you can purchase it here.

Give to the Max Day in Minnesota: Financially Support the Caux Round Table

The work of the Caux Round Table on moral capitalism and moral government is global, but with impacts on national and local communities everywhere.  We all struggle every day to earn our daily bread and manage the materialism of our existential imperatives and our personal desires; with living rightly or wrongly; with challenges of governance – personal, family, communal and national.

With climate change upon us and a peaceful international order seemingly receding day by day, we need a reliable compass for our decision-making.

The global network of the Caux Round Table seeks to provide reliable and relevant comments and recommendations on getting the best we can from wealth creation and public governance.

Our monthly newsletter, Pegasus, and our regular commentaries are the platform which distributes our thinking and links our network together in common purpose.

Please support our work with a donation via the Give to the Max website here in Minnesota.

You can also contribute by PayPal, check or wire transfer.  Our mailing address is 75 West Fifth Street, Suite 219, St. Paul, MN 55102.  To donate by wire transfer, please respond to this message for instructions.

We are grateful for your interest, for sending to us your ideas, concerns and reflections and we are thankful for your financial assistance.

September Pegasus Now Available!

Here’s the September issue of Pegasus.

First is an article from Richard Van Scotter about education being necessary if we are to understand the subtleties of life and the skills for holding the office of citizen.

Next, we include two short book reviews, one on Amazon and the other on Facebook.

Lastly, we have a collection of cartoons meant to bring meaning and humor to some of today’s important issues.  We hope they serve as discussion starters, suggesting points of view that can only be presented metaphorically

I would be most interested in your thoughts and feedback.