Directors to discuss ethical leadership

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 September, 2007, 12:00am

More than 100 company directors will meet for the first time tomorrow to discuss ethical dilemmas under a training programme to improve corporate governance.

The programme, 'Ethics - the core value of leadership' - is being hosted by commerce chambers, professional groups and regulatory bodies, including Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, the Securities and Futures Commission and the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Chairman Jim Wardell, a council member of the Hong Kong Institute of Directors, said changing perceptions and tightened regulations on directors had led to grey areas which might threaten good governance.

'Instead of telling them about corruption, for which right or wrong is clearly defined, we want to bring out the grey areas in ethical issues,' he said.

A case study designed by University of Hong Kong's Asia Case Research Centre will include scenarios such as insider dealing, offers of free overseas trips to directors and the appointment of spouses on company boards.

Some regulators would act as facilitators in the discussion, Mr Wardell said. 'It will be important for the directors to understand the views of the regulatory bodies, particularly when the lines are blurred and they are not sure they should actually stand.'

Of the 158 participants registered for the programme, 80 per cent are directors from 56 listed companies and 42 non-listed companies. About a quarter of directors taking part are from mainland corporations.

ICAC director of community relations Erika Hui Lam Yin-ming said 60 per cent of corruption charges in the private sector last year saw involvement at managerial level, revealing a need for ethical training for directors.