Ethics and Values
As public relations coups go, the news that King Juan Carlos of Spain, the honorary country president of conservation group WWF, had been elephant hunting in Botswana won’t win any prizes.
After all, here was a man who demonstrated clear disregard for the ethics and values of an organisation that, for over forty years, he allegedly represented.
And clearly whilst its morally repugnant to shoot elephants, the whole palaver teaches us about more than just animal rights. Rather, for the wider commercial markets it raises some interesting observations about the principles, ethics and interests of people in power.
Why? Put bluntly, because the way in which executive leaders behave – both in and out of the boardroom – matters more now, than ever before. It’s simply no longer acceptable for executive interests to be anything but aligned with the wider commercial interests of the business.
This might sound like it’s stating the obvious. But trust me, it’s incredible how quickly this can get forgotten. The financial services sector – that itself has been put through the mill over the past couple of months – recognises this better than most and the energy markets aren’t immune to it either.
Who can forget for instance, the time when Tony Hayward, former head of BP, spent the day sailing with his son, while the business got to grips with one of the biggest oil disasters in living memory.
Irrespective of how badly the poor chap had been briefed, it simply wasn’t appropriate to be seen to be perched on the edge of a boat.
What was needed was empathy, understanding and perhaps, just a sense that the person at the very top was rolling up their sleeves and was getting stuck in.
For the wind energy markets this is an important lesson, particularly as a fresh influx of capital begins to sweep through the market and the priorities and attitudes of senior management begin to shift.
Make no mistake, this is not about rediscovering any previously forgotten, wholly altruistic roots. Rather it’s a question of staying true to what an industry believes in and, in doing so, protecting the long terms capitalist interests and ambitions of this emerging energy economy.