After five years at the United Nations, serving as the Chief Ethics Officer and Director of the UN Ethics Office, Joan Dubinsky has taken on a new role as a Fellow with the Center for Professional Responsibility in Business and Society.
Dubinsky has been a champion for ethics, compliance, and responsible business conduct within the international, government, nonprofit, and business sectors for more than 30 years. She is a leader in the global business ethics movement, having served as the chief ethicist for several leading international organizations and corporations.
She served at the United Nations between 2010 and 2015, reporting directly to the Secretary-General. She chaired the Ethics Panel of the United Nations, promoting coherence among ethics functions within the UN System. Before joining the UN, she had served in similar roles for the International Monetary Fund, BAE Systems, Inc., the MITRE Corporation, and the American Red Cross.
Positions like those she has had in international nonprofits are typically 5-year appointments, after which the individual leaves the organization. “That way, you are never thinking about your next job in the organization,” explained Dubinsky. “You can tell truth to power, knowing that there will be times when you have to deliver unpleasant information or unwelcome messages.”
As a Fellow with the center, Dubinsky can provide a practical perspective on how “you actually do ethics” which is one of the main attributes of professional responsibility. “Compliance is about how do organizations understand and insure that they follow the rules and regulations that apply to them,” Dubinsky explained. “Ethics describes the core principles that make this institution unique. . . . When we are our better selves, how do we act on our beliefs and commitments?”
As Dubinsky describes it, an ethics officer’s typical day can include answering individual questions about specific situations or potential situations, developing or researching policy, supporting a whistleblowing system, deepening a culture of ethics within the organization, and working to reduce individual or institutional ethical risk.
Now at the Center, Dubinsky will provide her insights on her experience within this profession in ways that can help all who enter business careers. “What does a responsible professional do?” she asked. “How do you think about problems? How do you discuss issues that go to the heart and soul of what it means to be a professional, whatever your chosen occupation? Are you prepared to recognize, appreciate and resolve the tough questions that will come your way?”
In addition to her work with the Center, Dubinsky directs the Rosentreter Group, a management consulting practice, teaches and lectures at a number of universities, and is a Board member with Globethics.net Foundation, a Swiss charity focused on ethics in higher education. She serves as the Independent Ethics Advisor to the Board of Directors of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, one of the world’s largest international financing institutions devoted to improving global public health.
She co-authored Global Ethics and Integrity Benchmarks (2008 and 2015 editions). She was a contributing author to the Ethics and Compliance Officer Association’s Ethics and Compliance Handbook, which documented best practices in the field of corporate compliance. She led The Conference Board’s Research Working Group on Working at the Intersection of Human Resources, Ethics & Compliance. Her work in ethics training was prominently featured in Ethics Matters: How to Implement Values-Driven Management, by Dawn-Marie Driscoll and W. Michael Hoffman (2000, Bentley). Her work on investigations was highlighted in Blackwell’s Companion to Business Ethics (1999, Wiley-Blackwell).
Dubinsky received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin and her undergraduate degree in Religious Philosophy from the Residential College, University of Michigan, where she was a Phi Beta Kappa.