The AAPG Distinguished Ethics Lecture series is having a ripple effect that is going far beyond the boundaries of the Association.
With Scott W. Tinker, director of the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, leading the second series of AAPG Distinguished Ethics Lectures (May EXPLORER), the first lecturer has found the interest in the topic is worldwide.
John W. Gibson, who was then president and CEO of the Halliburton Energy Services Group when on the AAPG ethics lecture tour in 2003-04, is still invited to talk on the subject and is still taking engagements.
"I was very surprised at the interest -- and the reception -- I received on the talks," Gibson said. "In the wake of some major, high profile ethical mistakes, there is an interest in the integrity of the decision-making process in doing the right thing."
One of the points Gibson makes in his talks is that people are neither no more nor less ethical now than they were in the past. The difference, he says, is poor decision-making is confused with a lack of ethics.
He believes we are in an era of poor decision-making -- not poor ethics.
"We are shorter term now than we have ever been," he said. "We are compromising more and more of the long-term issues."
Among the issues cited by Gibson were employee health benefits, pension plans and the environment.
"We must balance the long-term consequences with the short-term returns," he said. "That short-term decision might seem to be the right one to make at the time -- but looking at it from a long term view, it can be harmful and compromising to the stakeholders while still being ethical."
There are other challenges, he added.
"Occasionally you will run into a truly evil person," Gibson said. "These are the anomalies. If you design your life around the dealing with evil people, it will impact your other relationships as well."
After giving a talk, Gibson said he would be asked to speak to other groups outside the geologic arena. And, as the rock song says, "One Thing Leads to Another."
He has given the talk at least two dozen times and has been engaged in countless informal discussions about ethics.
In his travels with Halliburton, Gibson found himself in a conversation with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, president of Nigeria, on the topic of ethics.
"He is genuinely concerned about (ethics) and is very aware of the cultural struggles his country faces," Gibson observed. "But he is committed. And, after all, he was imprisoned for his beliefs before he became president. I was very impressed with the man."
Gibson is now executive managing director of FX Paine & Co. investment company and is on the boards of Paradigm and Parker Drilling.
He also is to receive the AAPG Special Award at the Annual Convention in Calgary. His presentation, "Ethics Ultimately Self Regulation," can be viewed in video on the AAPG Web site at http://dpa.aapg.org/gibson/.
A tangible example of the impact of the ethics tour is a course on ethics at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, that was initiated after a regent heard Gibson's talk.
Seventy-five percent of the students in the class are non-U.S. students.
The tour is truly having a lasting and international impact.