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Enhancing the study of business ethics

Alumni create $5-million ethics chair in Asper School of Business

January 10, 2017 — 

When shortsighted and unethical business tactics led to the 2008 financial crisis, it became clear to University of Manitoba alumni that something had gone awry in the world of commerce. Richard Morantz and Sheree Walder Morantz are now taking the opportunity to make a difference.

“During the financial crisis, a lot of negative things were said about how businesspeople in certain industries conducted themselves. The crisis, I felt, was the result of people not acting in their rational, long-term self-interest,” says Richard Morantz [B.Comm. [Hons.] ’81], President, CEO, and owner of Globe Capital Management. “We think a study of and a grounding in ethics might help new graduates take more of a long view with respect to their business negotiations.”

Mr. Morantz and Sheree Walder Morantz [B.A. ’80, LL.B. ’84] have announced their commitment of $5 million to establish the Richard Morantz and Sheree Walder Morantz Chair in Business Ethics. The Chair will reside in the I.H. Asper School of Business. The significant gift to the Front and Centre campaign will bolster the University of Manitoba’s ability to impact the world through its research excellence. Making this social investment was an easy decision for Mr. Morantz and Ms. Walder Morantz.

“I graduated from the Faculty years ago and I feel that I received a great education,” says Mr. Morantz. “Still, to this day, the decisions I make are based on the things I learned while attending school there. I’m at a point in my life where I want to give something back. I was sitting down with Sheree one weekend, looking at the list of projects to which we could contribute, and it struck a chord with us: a chair in ethics would be really important and beneficial moving forward. We both felt we could be proud of it, and we think our families would be proud of it, and it’s also something that would benefit the university and, hopefully, society.”

Ms. Walder Morantz, a Partner and Senior Family Law Counsel with Myers Weinberg LLP, agrees.

“I want students to understand the ethical grounding that every professional should have to achieve success,” she says. “Students should have that kind of foundation going forward so that they become ethically-minded, successful people.”

The Richard Morantz and Sheree Walder Morantz Chair in Business Ethics will have a huge impact on students, says Asper School of Business Dean Michael Benarroch.

“What students learn here goes far beyond the classroom – it impacts their professional and personal decisions throughout their lives,” he says. “We’re incredibly grateful to Mr. Morantz and Ms. Walder Morantz for providing this opportunity for our students to grow their understanding of ethical business practices and take what they’ve learned into the world.”

Insights for today’s students from Richard Morantz and Sheree Walder Morantz

 Sheree Walder Morantz: “The biggest rule to follow is that, if you are ever in doubt as to whether an action or a position you’re taking is on shaky ethical grounds, stop what you’re doing and question yourself.

“There are many resources, whether they are in companies or law firms, that you can use if you are concerned about the actions you are taking.

“I think the big thing is to always ensure that you are making ethical decisions in your professional life and not to assume that, because a decision will lead to financial success or fame for yourself, it is necessarily ethical.

“University students should be thinking along those lines from the beginning and getting the help and education they need, so that they start their professional lives on the best possible basis.”

Richard Morantz: “For those graduating with their Bachelor of Commerce degrees and heading out into the working world, it is important to take a long-term view. It may not be immediately evident, but businesspeople, in whatever capacity, should attempt to implement a long-term view in every decision they make and every negotiation they go into.

“Try to be as empathetic as possible to all of the players involved, because, if you can figure out what each person is trying to achieve and help them achieve that, while accomplishing your own goals at the same time, that’s really what success is about. Sometimes with these things, you can’t see payback right in front of you. It’s not really tangible, yet it will come back to you in ways you can’t see at the time, as long as you’re treating people in a way that you would want to be treated.”

Sheree Walder Morantz: “Your reputation means more than anything. You may think you’re going to score big and it’s going to have a big effect on you for the next few months, but if you damage your reputation at any point in your career, it’s difficult to get back on the right track. Reputation is everything and being an ethical practitioner in any area is a critical part of having your reputation as a solid citizen and contributor to society.”

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