Roger Steare | The Corporate Philosopher | Educator | Speaker | Author

As The Corporate Philosopher, I’ve worked closely with CEOs, their leadership teams, and colleagues to navigate multi-billion-dollar ethical challenges and opportunities. Each experience has been a story of reflection, learning and commitment to change for good.

Using AI Responsibly

In 2023, OLIVER, a global in-house marketing agency, asked me to help their employees explore the ethics of using generative AI in the right way. Rob Goddard, Director of Technology Solutions, reflected: “Roger facilitated an extremely well thought out and structured workshop on Ethics in AI – which at the time was a very new and nuanced topic for our industry – and provided us with great insight and future thinking, provoking great interaction and feedback from our staff to set us up to think about how we can leverage AI responsibly and for a greater good”. Since then, co-designer Pavlos Stampoulides and I have begun a research project to explore how ChatGPT, Genesis, Claude, and other AI chatbots complete our 200,000-user MoralDNA ethics profile. So far, every chatbot has deviated significantly from human moral values and reasoning, with a significant bias towards a simplistic rules-based response, devoid of any compassion. In 2024, we plan to share this emerging research not only with the developers of these chatbots but also with AI safety groups and with end-users.

Building a Fairer Society

In 2021, I was asked to work with the Prime Minister’s office for a national government to understand which ethical values help build a better, fairer society. We reviewed insights from anthropology, psychology and moral philosophy and identified Humanity, Justice, Wisdom, Courage, Temperance, and Resilience as the foundations for a fairer and sustainable society. Whilst this work will always be a “work in progress”, for a national leader to ask this question is quite remarkable.

Partnerships with Visionaries

In 2007, I embarked on an inspiring journey with CEO Joe Garner at HSBC, followed by collaborations at Openreach in 2012 and Nationwide Building Society in 2016. Our focus was on building a culture of social purpose and shared ethical values. Together, we worked with every leader and team on the art of making good decisions and doing the right thing. Reflecting on our journey in 2023, Joe penned a heartfelt reference, acknowledging, “Roger is brilliant in his field and thinks very differently from most.”

Learning from Disaster

Post the Gulf of Mexico disaster in 2010, I was entrusted by BP to spearhead an Ethical Leadership program, touching the lives of 4,000 global leaders. This initiative wasn’t just successful; it became a benchmark. In 2016, the US Department of Justice recognised its impact, mandating its continuation in the US$20.8bn Consent Agreement with BP – a testament to our transformative approach.

Shaping Cultures in Times of Change

The year 2012 marked a significant turning point with RBS. Post their US$1,000bn balance sheet restructuring; I was headhunted to collaborate with PwC in pioneering a leadership and culture transformation program. The following year, CEO Stephen Hester’s personal thanks encapsulated the essence of our success. His words, “I have for one, have learned much,” were not just a commendation but a reflection of our shared journey of learning and growth.

“Roger is brilliant in his field and thinks very differently from most. He can add massive value to individuals and organisations.”

Joe Garner, CEO at HSBC, Openreach and Nationwide

“Roger is a lighthouse, in thick fog, in the middle of a zombie apocalypse

Richard Watson, Futurist, Imperial College

“In his excellent book Ethicability, Roger Steare argues for a more sophisticated interpretation of integrity in business – one that is not simply defined by the ethics of obedience – so what is legally right or wrong – but actually looks towards the ethics of care and the ethics of reason.”

Martin Wheatley, CEO, Financial Conduct Authority

Thinking Allowed is a weekly blog of essential reading for anyone interested in better thinking and decision-making at work. It is written by Roger Steare, the Corporate Philosopher, a Financial Times columnist and author of books and ebooks with sales of over 600,000 copies.

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