Re-established in 1991, Slovenia is emerging from the remnants of socialism and is working to re-create its business landscape.
As part of that process, Lisa Stewart, director of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business’ Institute for Business in Society, shared recommendations and leading concepts for building an ethical business culture during a talk, “Cultivating Ethical Leadership,” at the recent Future Ethical Efficiency Leadership conference in Slovenia.
As part of the former socialist Yugoslavia, Slovenia gained its independence and a system of capitalism, and joined the Euro zone in 2007. The mixture of old and new styles of business and government created unique challenges for Slovenian leaders. The conference presented ideas on creating a transparent and ethical path forward.
Darden’s Institute for Business in Society strives to provide a new generation of leaders with the skills needed to guide organizations through volatile social environments. Business ethics are crucial to newly formed countries, thus Slovenia sought the institute as a natural partner.
To move toward greater openness and ethical dealings, Stewart recommended building trust, establishing mutually shared goals and implementing safeguards to create a balance in power.
“For example, if an NGO and a corporation are working together toward a common goal, there should be a balance in power,” Stewart said in her June 12 address. “No one group should hold greater sway over the other.”
The human resources consultancy firm Taktika Plus invited Stewart to speak at Slovenia’s ethical leadership conference. Taktika Plus leads in the transformation of Slovenian businesses by introducing ethics and stakeholder theory into their corporate landscape.
The group plans to continue working with Darden in the future to gain more knowledge and understanding of the actions needed to thrive in a free market.
In addition to delivering the address, Stewart participated in a panel discussion with Joseph A. Mussomeli, the U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia, and Biljana Weber, CEO of Microsoft Slovenia. Conference participants included more than 250 CEO and senior-level executives from Slovenia. Stewart also delivered a workshop to the leaders of Si.mobil, one of the country’s top mobile phone companies.
“This is the first time that business leaders in Slovenia have embarked upon a deep examination of ethics in business practice and how to transform thinking and transparency from within,” Stewart added. “It was really nice for Darden to be a part of their efforts and to potentially be part of shaping their future business ethics goals.”