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Financial Services Boss Urges Enviro Ethics

In a speech sponsored by the Georgetown Business Ethics Institute, the leader of one of the world's largest financial services institutions called for greater transparency and balance as keys to doing business responsibly in the 21st century.

Speaking to Georgetown M.B.A. students and faculty recently, Ewald Kist, chairman of the executive board of Amsterdam-based ING Group, urged his peers in the private sector to respond to heightened public expectations by elevating standards of corporate citizenship.

“There is a universal trend to be more open about conduct of business and strategic goals ... Companies have to meet higher quality standards, not only in products and services, but also in the way they manifest themselves in society," Kist said.

Kist described ING Group's initiatives in the area of corporate social responsibility including ING in Society, the first rigorous self-assessment to take account of a company's social and environmental policies globally.

"The report shows we are serious about our commitment to sustainable development and that we are willing to hold ourselves accountable for our actions," Kist said. He cited examples of how this commitment is demonstrated operationally through its policies on office energy efficiency, environmentally responsible purchasing and contracting, and the use of information technology to reduce business travel.

"Finding the right balance among our 55 million customers, our shareholders, and our 120,000 employees is sometimes like walking a tightrope," Kist said, "but we have to do it."

He noted that business success in the 21st century belong to those companies that respect a "triple bottom line" of people, planet and profit.

Kist also announced ING Group would be a major sponsor of the Transatlantic Business Ethics Conference, to be held at Georgetown University in September 2002. The conference will bring together academics, multinationals and public sector organizations committed to the development of global business ethics.

"ING's generosity will help make possible a conference which will explore many of the values that Mr. Kist presented to us in his speech. It is greatly appreciated," said Professor George Brenkert, director of the Georgetown Business Ethics Institute.

The Georgetown M.B.A. prepares graduates to succeed in a competitive global business environment. An international focus, a rigorous academic environment that fosters teamwork and rewards individual effort, and a selective, diverse student body distinguish the Georgetown experience. Georgetown University, founded in 1789, is the nation's oldest Catholic and Jesuit university. Approximately 500 students are enrolled in the M.B.A. program, which is an integral part of Georgetown University's premier graduate programs in law, medicine and foreign service.

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