Gordon Heffern Speaks of the Importance of Business Ethics
March 26, 2004
Referring to his many years in the banking industry, Gordon E. Heffern, founder of the Gordon Heffern Business Ethics Lecture at Mount Union College, spoke of good character and ethical principles in life and the business setting at the inaugural lecture on Thursday, March 25 in Presser Recital Hall.
Heffern applied his personal experiences in business and views of ethics to what students entering the workplace should do.
The former chairman of the board of the Society Corporation said the business world and the banking industry need people with good moral character and integrity. "Integrity means doing what you say and honestly doing the work you are assigned," said Heffern. "There is a high degree of responsibility to do the right thing."
Heffern said ethics is a discipline dealing with good and bad, and moral obligation. He said people must have right behavior and an honest integrity.
Heffern established the first code of ethics for Society National Bank in 1974 that was used as a national model for all banks by the American Banking Association and published verbatim in the American Banker, the daily newspaper for the banking industry. "I could not find a bank with a model of its code of ethics, so I put it together from scratch," said Heffern.
"A code of ethics is only a piece of paper if not put into practice from the top CEO," said Heffern. "A code of ethics must be a high priority in an organization."
The member of the Mount Union College Board of Trustees said that students entering the business world should most importantly have integrity and character. "Students should develop high standards of conduct," said Heffern. "Many people lose employment because of character issues."
Heffern said the Bible is the best book for ethics and he puts much emphasis of faith and morals into his personal and professional life. He said the book of Proverbs is the best book of the Bible regarding ethics and wisdom because it speaks of honesty and trustworthiness that people need to follow in the their lives.
The University of Virginia graduate established the lecture to encourage dialogue about ethical issues so Mount Union students will become challenged in an ethical manner.
Dr. John L. Ewing, Jr., president of Mount Union College, introduced Heffern by saying he was the most appropriate person for the lecture because of his commitment to business ethics in his career. Ewing said the gift to Mount Union College is a way to show Heffern's commitment to make a difference in other people's lives.