Norway Brings in Ethicist to Oversee Oil funds
Some good news: The Wall Street Journal reports, in its December 1, 2005 issue,* that the Norwegian Petroleum Fund, in charge of managing the income from Norway's rapidly increasing oil revenues, has hired Henrik Syse, a professor of ethics and philosophy, to be its "moral compass."
Syse cheerfully admits he hadn't even known the difference between a stock and a bond. And he's totally happy to go to work on the tram, no fancy limousine for him.
Norway has adopted the corporate governance standards of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It's Syse's job to implement new ethical rules that prohibit investments that might put the fund in the position where it "may contribute to unethical acts or omissions."
I find this refreshing and delightful. And I'd love to see more companies and government organizations embracing the idea that they need a moral compass. In my own small way, with the Ethical Business Pledge campaign, I've tried to provide a tool for finding that compass.
* The article, "Oil-Rich Norway Hires Philosopher As Moral Compass: State Seeks Ethics Lesson On Investing Its Bonanza," by staff reporter Andrew Higgins, is available to non-subscribers for $4.95--or ask your local librarian to locate it for you.