Re-establishing Corporate Legitimacy

Tuesday 7 August, 2018

Discussion Paper

Moral and Strategic: Re-establishing Corporate Legitimacy
Hosted by The Banking and Financial Services Oath at The Ethics Centre
Academic research presented by Dr Rosemary Sainty

Read the Discussion Paper >>

This event focused on a ‘social license to operate’ and corporate culture, particularly in banking and finance is on the rise as a decline in trust and reputation threatens the corporate legitimacy of the sector. As the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Finance Sector continues, calls to address corporate culture, and rebuild reputation and public trust centred on customers’ interests are steadily growing.

For instance, the recently released AICD/KPMG Trust Survey: “It is incumbent on leaders across all sectors to engage with stakeholders, listen to their concerns and have an honest conversation about the challenges and opportunities we face as a society” (Elizabeth Proust, Chairman, AICD)

How is this understood by senior business members / decision-makers, ultimately responsible for the governance of their corporations?

How can seemingly competing interests underpinning corporate culture be realistically managed and how can these be communicated to the community to re-establish trust?

The event began with an overview of important themes to emerge from three years of Australian research conducted by UTS Business School academic and Founding Australian Representative to the UN Global Compact, Rosemary Sainty. This significant research was based on a series of ‘director’s conversations’ and interviews, exploring the assumptions, beliefs and practices of corporate boards and business leaders including from the banking and finance sector, as they navigate emerging social and environmental issues and broadening stakeholder responsibilities.

This conversation was led by a panel of senior thought leaders in business, including Simon McKeon (Chair BFSO Policy Council).

The event will be held in an intimate setting under Chatham House Rule to promote a robust deliberation amongst attendees. The outcomes from the discussion will serve to inform a UTS / The BFSO joint discussion paper in an unattributed format and be made available to attendees.


From 2008 Rosemary Sainty and her team, established the National Responsible Business Practice Project funded by the Australian Federal Government (through Treasury), based at St James Ethics Centre, building a world first ‘HUB’ of international initiatives and local resources. These included the Australian focal points for the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate citizenship initiative, and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the most widely used sustainability reporting framework. The Project received endorsement from the Federal Treasurer, Business Council of Australia and HRH the Prince of Wales. As the elected Secretariat, Rosemary then grew the UN Global Compact Australian Network to become the strongest corporate citizenship movement in Australia, incorporating leading Australian businesses across banking and finance, extractives, retail and professional services. Rosemary has recently completed a PhD at UTS Business School. Her doctoral research examined corporate sustainability and responsibility leadership at board level. She is co-currently teaching on the UTS Business School MBA program. Rosemary has published research articles and resources and spoken widely on corporate responsibility and business ethics, both locally and internationally.

Simon McKeon practised law in Sydney with Blake Dawson Waldron before taking up a post with the Macquarie Bank, where he became the Executive Chairman (Melbourne Office). He was Founding President of the statutory dispute resolution body for Australian public company takeovers, the Australian Takeovers Panel.

He was also the Chairman of MYOB LTD 2006–2009. Simon was chairman of CSIRO from 2010 until 2015, Simon was appointed to the AMP Limited Board in 2014. Simon was Australian of the year in 2011 and is Chancellor of Monash University. Simon is also Chair of The Banking and Financial Services Oath Review Panel.

Ming Long is the Chair of AMP Capital Funds Management. Previously, she was Group Executive, Fund Manager of the Investa Office Fund from 2014 to 2016 and was responsible for actively driving the long-term strategy and performance of the listed Fund. With over 20 years’ experience in the finance industry, Ming has held senior executive positions including Joint Managing Director and Finance Director of Investa Property Group. Ming was also previously a Director on Investa’s funds management boards including Responsible Entity Boards of Investa Office Fund and Investa Commercial Property Fund.

Ming is also currently a non-executive director on the board of Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand and is Deputy Chair of Diversity Council of Australia. She was previously a member of the Finance & Audit Committee of the University of Sydney and on the board of Property Council of Australia.

Pauline Vamos was the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) between 2007 and 2016 and has over 25 years’ experience in the financial services industry.

In the three years prior to joining ASFA, Pauline consulted to the financial services industry and was on a number of Boards. Pauline was also a senior executive with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) for seven years and in that role, managed the implementation of the Managed Investment Act and the Financial Services Reform Act.

She has also been a corporate counsel, head of compliance, and strategic risk consultant, as well as a director on various financial services boards.

Pauline is a qualified lawyer and has the unique experience of being on all sides of the financial services fence, with deep experience in superannuation, funds management, financial advice and insurance.
Pauline has also recently consulted to the UK Pensions Regulator and implemented a governance project for Professional Trustees.
Pauline is a Director of, The Banking and Financial Services Oath (BFO) group, Interaction Disability services and most recently Decimal Software Limited.

Charles Macek has had an extensive career in corporate governance and is currently a member of both the AICD Corporate Governance Committee and the Shareholder Responsibilities Committee of the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN).

As Chairman of the Australian Investment Managers’ Association AIMA), Charles played a significant role in the launch of the so-called Blue Book, the first set of governance guidelines for investors, launched in 1996. In the previous year AIMA were one of the sponsors for the establishment of the ICGN, whose members now manage around $1 trillion. Charles was also non-executive Chair of the Sustainable Investment Research Institute (Siris) from 2002-15.

In his non-executive career, Charles have been involved with both large (Telstra, Wesfarmers, Vicinity) and small companies, including start ups. He has retained an on-going involvement in the investment space through membership of the Investment Committee of Unisuper since 2003.

The Oath

  • Trust is the foundation of my profession.
  • I will serve all interests in good faith.
  • I will compete with honour.
  • I will pursue my ends with ethical restraint.
  • I will help create a sustainable future.
  • I will help create a more just society.
  • I will speak out against wrongdoing and support others who do the same.
  • I will accept responsibility for my actions.
  • In these and all other matters;
    My word is my bond.