In 2001, as a young university graduate, Dennis Gentilin became a member of a FX trading desk at one of Australia’s largest banks, the National Australia Bank. In the years that followed the desk became involved in a trading scandal that resulted in the resignation of the chairman and CEO, the upheaval of the board of directors, significant financial loss, and incalculable reputational damage. It was in this environment that the true meaning of business ethics was revealed to Gentilin.
In this ground breaking book, Gentilin draws on both his personal experience and the emerging literature in the various disciplines of psychology to provide a very unique insight into the origins of ethical failures. The intellectual depth Gentilin provides coupled with his real life reflections make this book a must read for senior leaders, regulators, consultants, students and practitioners.
Amongst other things, the book highlights the shortcomings associated with the traditional approaches used to explain and address ethical failures and illustrates how easily we can all, individuals and organisations alike, be complicit to unethical conduct. More importantly, it provides lessons and guidance to all leaders who aspire to build institutions that are more resilient to ethical failure.
"Gentilin’s cure bypasses individual responsibility and integrity, and is all about changing the culture of organisations to inoculate them against the likelihood of ethical failures. He recommends that organisations should begin by articulating a 'virtuous purpose', but says the challenge is bringing these statements to life." - The Australian Business Review
'Dennis Gentilin has given us all a profoundly useful book, not surprisingly because he himself is a practitioner whose commitment to ethical business was forged in the fire of personal experience. Gentilin brings together a wide-ranging review of the relevant scholarship, while never failing to bring the reader back to application, to our own practice, helping us all not only to understand but to act in the service of values-driven leadership.'
Mary C. Gentile, Director, Giving Voice To Values, Babson College, USA
'Ethical behaviour in organisations derives from culture and practice, not rules and pronouncements. Leaders set the standard through every action they take, no matter how inconsequential. In this ground-breaking book, Dennis Gentilin provides clear guidance for all leaders and organisations on how to behave ethically and avoid drifting into the unconscionable behaviour we are all capable of given the right circumstances. If you are a leader, you should read this book.'
Lindsay Tanner, Australian Minister for Finance 2007-2010
'Dennis Gentilin has written a lucid and well-informed account of the origins of ethical failure. His grasp of the relevant theory is strong. However, it is Dennis' capacity to draw on personal experience - and, in doing so, to give an authentic account of what it means to act with moral courage - that makes this such a significant work. It deserves to be widely read - not least because of the manner in which it will reward its readers.'
Simon Longstaff AO, Executive Director of The Ethics Centre
‘Dennis Gentilin could have been forgiven for writing in a most critical and damning manner about his particular workplace experience. But he has chosen not to. Rather, his focus is measured, well researched and committed to changing for the better that most important building block of the corporation - culture. This is a work that will stand the test of time and remain highly relevant for a very long time. And I am not surprised that it enjoys the support of the very corporation that caused him to embark on this journey in the first place.’
Simon McKeon, Chancellor, Monash University
1. The Power of Context
2. Group Dynamics
Power & Obedience
3. Our Flawed Humanity
Are Humans Self-Interested?
4. What we Fail to See
Chief Ethics Officer
Lessons for Leaders