Listen: How financial institutions should serve human rights needs. Professor David Kinley in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty
Australia’s banking and finance system ought to be an example of best practice. After all, we have a highly regulated system operating under strict legal constraints and watched over by ASIC, a body with arguably enough fire power to root out improper behaviour. And yet the Banking Royal Commission has lifted the lid on behaviour that is not just unethical but may indeed be of a criminal nature.
Financial institutions are scrambling to repair their damaged reputations. Senior executives and board members are falling on the swords or facing shareholder and consumer demands to do so.
Questions abound about the regulator. Was it caught napping, or slow to move through lack of resources?
And while the recessed Parliament is yet to debate the matter the political storm is not far away and will last until the next election at least. The not insignificant question of why the present government opposed a Royal Commission will dominate debate, but the more significant question is what changes need to be made to prevent similar appalling behaviour in the future?
In the midst of all the mess there are even bigger and more profound questions
How can our financial services industry return to the very substantial position of trust that, in the 21st century, is essential to global security, community and individual well-being?
As a significant and essential global service industry, how does the financial services sector serve the common good?
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What can be said to the vast majority of people serving in that sector whose behaviour is indeed properly motivated and ethical?
And for Christians, especially those young people looking to future career options in keeping with their desire to serve God through their work, what can we offer as a positive reason to consider a pathway in financial services?
To help answer these questions Open House went not to a financial services expert but to a human rights lawyer.
Professor David Kinley who holds the Chair in Human Rights Law at the University of Sydney and for some time he’s been looking at the financial sector through a human rights lens.
In fact, his book about it is just about to be released in Australia: Necessary Evil: How to Fix Finance by Saving Human Rights (Oxford University Press).
To find out about the human rights origins of the finance industry and how we might recapture them listen to our podcast by clicking the link above.