NASBA Center for the Public Trust Expands On Student & Professional Fronts
NASBA’s Center for the Public Trust (CPT) is taking the steps to become more visible on the national stage.
The organization is currently involved in two major initiatives: increase its number of student chapters in the Student Center for the Public Trust while also launching a membership program, the Ethics Network, for individuals interested in promoting high ethical standards.
“All of this activity is part of a plan to become a strong, independent voice for ethics in the business world,” said Larry Bridgesmith, Executive Director of the Institute for Conflict Management at Lipscomb University in Nashville, and current chair of the CPT Board of Directors.
“We are strengthening our footing in many ways,” Bridgesmith said. “We have been working to build the CPT so it has the capacity to make a difference. It has taken a lot of people an enormous amount of foundational time to get us to the place where we can really begin to expand, and we are at that place now.”
The creation of the Student Center for the Public Trust (SCPT) and the resultant drive to enhance existing student chapters and create new ones is ambitious. Adding a membership drive for the Ethics Network comes at the right time says Bridgesmith as the CPT is primed for this two-pronged approach.
“Our student chapter program is the kind of initiative that can help improve the ethics culture, and affects the next generation of leaders. That’s the type of initiative that resonates with our supporters.”
The CPT’s first Student Leadership Conference was held this past summer, in conjunction with NASBA’s Eastern Regional Meeting. Student and business professionals alike praised the event, which saw a blending of the two groups to discuss the role of ethics in multiple business and educational situations.
“From the students’ perspective, they were able to create relationships with successful business people and organizations,” Bridgesmith said. “That’s of great benefit to them. Likewise, those from the corporate arena were able to identify students who are doing the work of becoming educated and equipped to lead. These are the people who have a real passion for ethical business practices, and are being recruited by these businesses. We saw connecting the two groups as a natural pairing, and that’s why we are working on these two separate, but also conjoined, fronts at the same time.”
On the corporate side, the new Ethics Network provides many ways to get involved with the CPT and other members. By creating a “virtual community,” the organization empowers everyone who comes in contact with it to share ethical best practices, explained Lisa Axisa, Executive Director.
“There are a lot of people who care about ethics, but they don’t all necessarily fall into the same community,” Axisa said. “This is our major advantage. We’re going to have physical meetings, but also create and host webinars about ethics so that the members are able to interact with us, and with each other, from where they are. We think that is huge for companies that want to be involved, but don’t have the time or budget to travel all around the country.”
Further, both Axisa and Bridgesmith say the makeup of the CPT’s board also demonstrates how it incorporates its strong financial-industry background with multiple new business sectors.
“Our board has grown increasingly diverse, and their experience and industry connections benefit the organization,” Bridgesmith said. “When we were seeking this new group, we created a grid and looked at where we were lacking in presence, experience and reputation. Then, we focused on those industries and were fortunate to find key leaders who fit the bill. We intend to continue working in that manner, to broaden our appeal and impact even more.”
Much of 2011 has been a year of change, 2012 will be a year of opportunity. As the CPT’s new initiatives take root, and those new student and industry members are connected, the organization should flourish at all levels.
“We continue to work so that our message reaches the widest audience possible, so that NASBA can point to us with pride as something they started, and that has been so successful that their proportional contribution has been overshadowed by the contributions of others who see the value in the work that the CPT is doing,” Bridgesmith says.
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