Posted by: hepowers | February 12, 2010

The Oath Project – Making Businesses Professional

The Aspen Center for Business Education launched a new initiative this month called The Oath Project.  The premise of this project is to make business more professional and responsible. By taking an oath – like doctors, lawyers and engineers – the idea is for business managers to ‘hold themselves to the higher standard of integrity and service to society that is the hallmark of a true professional.’

The Oath Project is a non-profit collection of organizations including World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders, the MBA Oath, the Aspen Institute, Principles for Responsible Management Education, the UN Global Impact, Association of Professionals in Business Management and Net Impact.  Essentially, the Oath Project has been created to facilitate this lofty goal by connecting similar projects for discussion, encouraging common terms and language amongst interested groups, developing central resources and to create recommendations for how to ‘live the oath’.

These three American business schools already formally adopted oaths:

  • Columbia Business School
  • Thunderbird School of Business Management
  • University of Texas at Arlington, EMBA Program

Here is a draft of the oath, issued on December 23, 2009:

‘In order to offer a single, well-researched, and rigorously tested starting point, the Oath Project is working to arrive at consensus around a single, shared Oath for all parties. The following DRAFT Unified Oath is currently under review by our Board of Advisors.

We also believe that taking the Oath, by itself, is insufficient. The Oath must be accompanied by habits of practice that allow one to Live the Oath.

As a business leader I recognize my role in society.

•  My purpose is to lead people and manage resources to create value that no single individual can create alone,

•  My decisions affect the well-being of individuals inside and outside my enterprise, today and tomorrow,

Therefore, I promise that:

•  I will manage my enterprise with loyalty and care, and will not advance my personal interests at the expense of my enterprise or society.

•  I will understand and uphold, in letter and spirit, the laws and contracts governing my conduct and that of my enterprise.

•  I will refrain from corruption, unfair competition, or business practices harmful to society.

•  I will respect and protect the human rights and dignity of all people affected by my enterprise, and I will oppose discrimination and exploitation.

•  I will protect the right of future generations to advance their standard of living and enjoy a healthy, resource-rich planet.

•  I will report the performance and risks of my enterprise transparently and honestly.

•  I will strive to create sustainable and inclusive economic, social and environmental prosperity

•  I will invest in developing myself and others, helping my profession continue to grow and contribute to society.

In exercising my professional duties according to these principles, I recognize that my behavior must set an example of integrity, eliciting trust and esteem from those I serve. I will remain accountable to my peers for my actions and for upholding these standards.

This oath I take freely, and upon my honor.’

I hope that this excellent project will continue to grow momentum and gain wide-spread acceptance.  Businesses must make a profit in order to continue being a business, but corporate citizenship and social responsibility should be high priorities.  Like a good neighbour, businesses should look out for more than themselves.



  1. Thanks for your post. We’re hopeful that we can get some real momentum for the oath project this spring when we release a book on the MBA Oath in time for graduation. It is an argument for professionalizing management and for why business leaders need to create value, not just profit. Its available for pre-order on Amazon now.

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