PROFESSOR ATUL K. SHAH www.atulkshah.co.uk
Globally renowned expert advisor and broadcaster on culture, accounting, finance, business ethics, holistic education and leadership
Professor Atul K. Shah, City, University of London, www.atulkshah.co.uk
As the world gets hotter, human culture and behaviour on planet earth needs to change dramatically. One culture which foresaw this thousands of years ago, the Hindu Dharma, had its unique festival of Diwali hosted at one of the world’s leading professional advisory firms PWC in London. As Board member of City Hindus Network led by the dynamic Alpesh Patel OBE, I was invited by Nilesh Solanki to attend, and excited to join 300 other professionals in this unique celebration in the heart of London, with a display of music, dance and the colour which is the very spirit of India.
As a Professor who has championed business ethics for a long time in my research and writings, I have seen how the textbooks and courses rarely refer to ancient LIVING cultures and their vast ocean of wisdom. Yes the culture which professionals bring into a firm is not even on the profit & loss account or balance sheet, yet it is priceless and invaluable in terms of leadership and social capital. Sarah Churchman OBE, Head of Inclusion, shared with me how cooperative the Hindu Network are. I explained to her that in our dharmic upbringing, living in large extended families and building communities are instinctive acts – these are talents we bring to the employer, wherever we choose to work. I see this spirit in Shreeya Majithia a young management consultant at PWC, in Harsha Sri-Ramesh who works for MAZARS and in Kiran Ruparelia at EY or Reeya, a dynamic HR strategist. At City University, I would love to host a sponsored conference which brings these professional dynamos together and encourages them to help get the world out of its deep hole, and show the City how much talent it has hidden in plain sight. Even professional organisations and firms have forgotten that their origins were based on the highest integrity and public interest, and not on commercial greed. I have been to many Diwali events where senior partners and leaders are missing at such festivals – PWC proved me wrong yesterday and I hope that the leaders continue to recognize the potential this group has to transform the beating heart of the organization. PWC have just announced a major expansion in China, and professional service firms have seen significant growth in revenues throughout the pandemic.
My own research has been championing these agendas, and I am about to give a keynote address at the upcoming Oxford University global COP conference on ethical finance. My book on Jain Ethical Finance took thirty years to research and write, but shows unique wisdom to the world at a time when there are so many pretenders who lack integrity. Unlike net zero technologies, the world needs to realise that culture cannot be transformed overnight. However, with people who have faith and history and a track record of integrity and respect for all living beings, there is an opportunity to encourage them to lead and show us an inclusive way forward. Thanks PWC for giving me hope, and Nilesh Solanki for leading this network for 20 years, and giving it the boost that will now spark a new generation. The National Hindus Students Forum, a campus wide network of young people all over the UK, has been doing pioneering work in nurturing future ethical leaders – it deserves corporate recognition for these sterling achievements.