First, Do Not Steal From Shareholders

In the past few days, we've heard from a couple of different sources about something that's creeping out from the campus of Harvard Business School. It seems that a group of MBA candidates at HBS, surveying the wasteland that that has been made of their soon-to-be profession, have decided that new business managers should hold themselves accountable to something more than insane short-term growth and ridiculous bonuses.

And so, this month, the MBA Oath was born. It's sort of "a management equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath," writes Max Anderson, a 2009 HBS grad, on the website. Anderson notes that while graduates of law or medical schools are admitted into guilds like the Bar Association or the American Medical Association, no such organization exists for MBAs.

The oath is strictly voluntary, but so far it's been signed by over 100 recent HBS grads, plus a handful of new MBAs from other institutions around the country. The short version of the oath is after the jump:

As a manager, my purpose is to serve the greater good by bringing together people and resources to create value that no single individual can build alone. Therefore I will seek a course that enhances the value my enterprise can create for society over the long term. I recognize that my decisions can have far-reaching consequences that affect the well-being of individuals inside and outside my enterprise, today and in the future. As I reconcile the interests of different constituencies, I will face difficult choices.

Therefore, I promise:

—I will act with utmost integrity and pursue my work in an ethical manner.

—I will safeguard the interests of my shareholders, co-workers, customers, and the society in which we operate.

—I will manage my enterprise in good faith, guarding against decisions and behavior that advance my own narrow ambitions but harm the enterprise and the societies it serves.

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

—I will take responsibility for my actions, and will represent the performance and risks of my enterprise accurately and honestly.

—I will develop both myself and other managers under my supervision so that the profession continues to grow and contribute to the well-being of society.

—I will strive to create sustainable economic, social, and environmental prosperity worldwide.

—I will be accountable to my peers and they will be accountable to me for living by this oath.

This oath I make freely, and upon my honor.

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