From Left: Nick Leslau, Chief Rabbi, Jeff Randall, Mick Davis
How do you restore trust when you've lost it?
This question set the scene for The Jewish Association for Business Ethics (JABE) Annual Dinner & Seminar: The Recession, Re-establishing Trust held on the 5th November 2009 at the Park Lane Hotel.
High profile businesspeople and influential city leaders were treated to their own indoor fireworks display with a Seminar panel consisting of Mick Davis, Chief Executive, Xstrata plc, Nick Leslau, Chairman and Chief Executive, Prestbury Investment Holdings and the Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Jeff Randall, the highly respected Sky presenter and columnist at The Daily Telegraph, interviewed the panel in his own gritty style, engaging the audience and panel alike in a lively debate on the issues of re-establishing trust.
The evening opened with JABE's chairman Maurice Moses warmly welcoming the guests, followed by the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks in the evenings captivating keynote address.
The Chief Rabbi expressed to the audience the need for re-establishing trust saying that "Trust is essential to business, finance, indeed every sphere of human activity. He stressed that "Where levels of trust are high, levels of business and investment are also high" and touched upon the need to educate and inculcate these ethical principles in our children.
This was followed by a moving address by the Dinner Chairman, Simon Bentley, detailing the outstanding work JABE does in the area of business ethics for schools with its ‘Money and Morals' Programme and The ‘Money and Morals' Roadshow, emphasising further the communal responsibility to instruct our children in the lessons of the Torah and by doing so, giving a Jewish framework within which they can conduct their lives.
The Panel then took their seats for the seminar. Structured in a Question Time format, Nick Leslau sparked the first discussion by saying that at the moment we simply don't trust our leaders. He sympathised with them to some degree saying "to think our leaders are infallible is a huge misunderstanding, you can't automatically switch on the good button."
He went on to say though that in his own business "if you can't do a deal on a handshake, you shouldn't do the deal at all."
The debate continued in an honest, but gritty fashion with Jeff Randall holding the fort. Questions from the audience touched upon issues of lashon hora, evil speech, the media reporting of the Madoff scandal and other probing issues.
The Chief Rabbi summed up the evening with three principles for regaining trust, the third of which he stressed must be "for people to strive for a win win situation and never be in a situation where you're win is at the cost of someone else's loss - the quality of your business will be the quality of the people around you."