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Posted by:
Jodi O'Callaghan

Is it possible to live an authentic life 24/7?

Living an authentic life. One with purpose, in which you are conscious of and being true to your personal values is what many of us strive for.
So how does this translate to our professional lives? There are those that find giving back is key for what motivates them to get out of bed in the morning or fulfil them in their day to day work. For others, it is about understanding how their personal values align with an organisation’s values and purpose, and how they can make a difference through that purpose.
Becoming conscious, or ‘awake’ to what you want from your professional life is often stumbled upon rather than actively chosen. I know this from personal experience and working for organisations early in my career in which their corporate values did not align with my own.  At that time, I had a couple of experiences where something didn’t sit quite right with me, but I couldn’t articulate why. Only after some reflection upon leaving could I identify the reason for that discomfort.
With experience often comes the confidence to stand up for what you believe to be the ‘right thing’, realising too that we have a finite amount of time on this planet to do what is right by multiple stakeholders. What we do with that time can make the difference in our lives, and potentially the world too.
There has always been a Greta Thunberg at different times in history, advocating for change for the better. Al Gore who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to build greater knowledge of man-made climate change; Lily Ledbetter who fought for equal pay all the way to the United States Supreme Court and finally saw the Fair Pay Act of 2009 legislated - President Barack Obama’s first official piece of legislation as president; Australia’s own Ronni Kahn - the founding director of OzHarvest, a not for profit organisation that rescues unwanted food from restaurants, retailers, food outlets and corporate kitchens to feed communities at risk. And more recently, Amrita Cheung, an engineer and ‘robotics for girls’ advocate, named the 2012 Young Australian of the Year.
Initiatives and movements are usually born from a societal need or crisis. What these changemakers in history and today have in common is the success they had in amplifying their message, bringing the issue in to the mainstream and creating a movement.
More and more organisations are finding it imperative to operate in the space of not what is just ‘legal’, but the right thing to do - by the environment, the communities they operate in and society more broadly.   
So, what does this have to do with The Banking and Finance Oath (The BFO)? It is worth remembering The BFO was started by the good of the industry post GFC, on a mission to strengthen the ethical foundation of financial services in Australia. Perhaps not quite on the global scale, though let it be noted the Netherlands based their ‘Bankers Oath’ on The BFO!
What’s inspiring is the engagement we are seeing from individuals within organisations whose values are aligned with The BFO’s purpose and tenets of the Oath, and who have somewhat of an ethical framework to guide them in their daily activities.
MetLife (almost 50% of employees are signatories), Rabobank (over 330 employees are signatories) and Volt Bank (almost 100% of their team are signatories) are just some examples of those we are working with in a co-ordinated way through their communications teams and leaders to help them bring the Oath to life internally.
In these examples it is an easy message to convey to employees because their organisational purpose, values and principles align with what The BFO is seeking to do – among other things - create a more just society, and speaking to an underlying truth that the banking and finance industry is not just necessary but a capacity to do good.
In a recent article, The Ethics Centre’s Dr Simon Longstaff called on the next generation of leaders to be the ones driving this wave of change: “What banking and finance needs are hopeful, pragmatic idealists willing to champion and apply the precepts embedded in The BFO. This is a practical task requiring a level of inspiration, energy and commitment that is beyond the reach of those currently running the show. Today’s leadership sincerely embraces the idea of a solid ethical foundation for banking and finance; they just don’t want to (or perhaps can’t) bring the ideas to life at the scale required. To wait for them to get their act together would be to wait forever.”
If you are a current signatory, I encourage you to be bold, have those tough conversations in the workplace by embedding The BFO in your team meetings, build a common language around ethics and in turn be an advocate for change in financial services.
For more information on The BFO go to thebfo.org

Photo by John Baker on Unsplash

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