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How companies in Malaysia can gain from having a ‘chief philosophy officer’

The lessons of philosophy may serve as a conceptual ground for leadership reform within organisations


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By Pravin Periasamy

The notion of a chief philosophy officer’s role in corporate management as an authentic concept is usually perceived as unnecessary and of little use.

Having such an officer, however, could kickstart an important revolution towards ethical sustainability in organisational leadership. It can help build stronger relationships with relevant stakeholders and better manage public affairs.

A chief philosophy officer in an organisation would be tasked with overseeing ethical decisions so that it harmonises company policies and goals with stakeholders’ expectations.

As ethical concerns grow, company executives must share new strategies to show their ongoing commitment.

The range of skills and qualities traditionally associated with philosophers – critical thought, the questioning of narratives, concept-building, thoughtful reflection – could be leveraged to strengthen a company’s code of ethics.

This may be done by promoting company practices that focus on bold, systematic reforms to enhance the moral environment of organisational leadership. Introducing this in Malaysia would be revolutionary.

In Malaysia, certain companies are taking steps to encourage a more ethical culture in their organisations.

A chief philosopher officer could institute policies that are more values-driven. After all, philosophers are experts at analysing what people want and require; so they are able to they offer customised solutions that benefit those around them.

The humanised nature of philosophical reasoning requires a practical hands-on approach towards leadership.

It also involves genuine conversations with executives, employees and stakeholders. These will help to form strong bonds between them and allow for the establishment of meaningful communication channels. Through these channels, company actors can fulfil meaningful leadership responsibilities and duties.

READ MORE:  Increase philosophy literacy in Malaysia

A chief philosophy officer would be able to draw lessons from the discipline of philosophy. These could be used as practices and virtues that could benefit others within the organisation.

Whether it be the lessons of Stoicism or the values found in mindfulness, a chief philosophy officer could incorporate such practices in designing a company culture that can meet the moral demands of the surrounding environment.

A chief philosophy officer would also be able to ensure that companies transition towards values-based leadership.

The moral consciousness of stakeholders these days exerts enormous influence over corporate decision-making in Malaysia. So companies ought to strategise on how to meet these demands.

The philosophical training of a chief philosophy officer will help in counteracting the toxic work culture that many in Malaysia gripe about. Workers experiencing this often feel disillusioned with a lack of humanised practices adopted within their organisations.

The lessons of philosophy may serve as a conceptual ground for leadership reform within organisations.

Companies should also consider having a chief philosophy officer to tackle the rising expectations for environmental, social and corporate governance.

In adopting such governance, the analysis of risks and trade-offs is crucial. Profit-maximisation has to be weighed against the expectations of other stakeholders, as this will affect a company’s long-term profitability.

By appointing chief philosophy officers, companies in Malaysia will be able to champion urgent moral causes. They will be able to openly demonstrate their commitment to ethical reforms in a way that balances the company’s financial interests with the demands of other stakeholders.                                                                                                

Pravin Periasamy is the networking and partnerships director of the Malaysian Philosophy Society

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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