July 20, 2018 | Connor Bechler

A business professor and a student having a discussion in an office setting.

In October 2016, business professor Jason Stansbury got a phone call. Not recognizing the number, he let it run to voicemail. The call was an invitation to apply to be the executive director of the Society for Business Ethics (SBE)—an international organization of business ethics scholars—from a former executive director. “By the time I called him back, he wasn’t available, so we played tag for a little bit,” said Stansbury, who applied, and has been executive director since August 2017.

Serving the field

“Fundamentally, it’s service,” said Stansbury. His duties include arranging hotels, budgeting, catering for conferences, answering online questions, contract negotiation, and—he admitted—a little leadership. Stansbury emphasized that everything he does is with SBE’s board and director of operations, and noted that their assistance makes the job significantly easier. He compared his executive directorship to his church council presidency: less about rigid central control, more about listening and keeping up with the affairs of the organization.

Stansbury is excited to be in the position: “I care about the field, and I care about these people, and I really do believe business ethics is one manifestation of God’s common grace for the world.” He added, “I see serving the field in this role as one way I can participate in that.”

The SBE is a multidisciplinary nonprofit concerned with providing an international forum for business ethics through annual conferences and a scholarly journal, the Business Ethics Quarterly. Stansbury has been a member since 2002.

An engaged community

Originally from Atlanta, Stansbury earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Michigan, and immediately went into industry. He worked at Deloitte and Touche’s Detroit office as a management consultant from 1999 to 2003, which Stansbury notes were rocky years for business ethics. “As a Christian, I felt like I needed to go back to the drawing board.”

Rethinking both his professional and personal choices, Stansbury decided to apply to graduate school, and went to Vanderbilt University for a PhD in organization studies. Prior to finishing his dissertation on business ethics, he was hired by Calvin’s business department in 2008.

At Calvin, Stansbury has taught courses on accounting ethics, ethics in business, and on management and organizational behavior, while also carrying out a wide range of research and writing. “I like being able to teach somewhere that people actually genuinely care about business ethics,” said Stansbury. “I like being able to talk about business ethics in terms that really are authentic to why I care about business ethics.

“Being ethical is who we’re called to be, having a renewing influence is what God is preparing us for,” he added; “I care about this stuff, and so do the institution, my colleagues, and the students.”

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