Richard K. Davis, chairman and chief executive officer of U.S. Bank shared his views on the importance of regulating ethical business behavior with Belmont students, faculty and Nashville business leaders on Monday, March 26.
“Ethics can be learned now. What I can’t drill into your head is when a lot of people are doing little things wrong, you will want to draw the line on when it will end. You can draw the line in the sand now that you will adhere to as you begin practicing business,” he said.
Davis emphasized the need to create a business culture with consistent values and regular audits as the cornerstone to long-term success. He encouraged government regulation on ethical business practices, such as shareholder access and whistleblower incentives to promote honesty, integrity and transparency. He also summarized the evolution of corporate responsibility from 1919 to the present.
“Making money is not a bad thing, because capitalism is what got America where it is today, as long as you do it the right way with honesty,” Davis said.
Davis was recently recognized as the Banker of the Year by the American Banker and received the Hendrickson Medal for Ethical Leadership. U.S. Bank is the nation’s fifth largest commercial bank with $340 billion in assets. The company has more than 3,000 banking offices, 5,000 ATMs and 60,000 employees in 25 states. Each year, about 50 U.S. Bank employees face jail time for white collar crimes, he said. U.S. Bank is characterized as one of the “cleanest” and best managed megabanks today and does not make loans to munitions or pornography companies, among others that conflict with company values.
During a luncheon for College of Business Administration faculty, local U.S. Bank employees and other business leaders in the Vince Gill Room, Davis urged businesses to engage higher education decision makers about how to shape curriculum based on the future of their industries.
“Reach out to tell them where the puck is going to be in five years and what jobs are needed in five years and not today,” Davis said. “We might have the wrong people there at the wrong time with the wrong skills if we don’t do something about it now.”
He also predicted that banks would return to normalcy in three years, but they must prepare themselves to help others.
“The American economy is going to bifurcate and companies will be there to pick up the pieces. There will be people without jobs, and the government will not be able to satisfy social programs. Those of use who are wealthy … whether you like it or not, we’re going to have to give more to maintain the status quo as we move this country forward,” Davis said.
Among those in attendance were former Belmont professor Harry Hollis, who served as the director of Belmont’s Center for Business Ethics at its creation in 1994 and current Advisory Board members: Clyde Ingalls, president of BancorpSouth; John Hilley, principal of Patmos Consulting; Craig Philip, president of Ingram Barge; and Jose Gonzalez, co-founder of Conexion Americas.
The Center provides a forum in which leaders of organizations can interact with one another to discuss key issues in the area of organizational integrity and also provides resources to facilitate the overall development of ethical standards of conduct within the marketplace.
“The idea is to educate entrepreneurs as ethically and socially conscious individuals so that they can be leaders in a world that is constantly changing,” said Pat Raines, dean of the College of Business Administration.
The Center for Business Ethics has previously hosted: Cynthia Cooper, author of 2007 book Extraordinary Circumstances: The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower; David Callahan, author of bestseller The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead and of the new book The Moral Center: How Progressives Can Unite America around Our Shared Values; and Robert W. Fogel of the University of Chicago, a Nobel Prize-winning economist.