Working with integrity: solving global ethical dilemmas at GLP’s Innovative Leaders Series

“It’s really easy to walk outside the path of integrity as you move forward in your life. Don’t.”

Audette Exel at the GLP Innovative Leaders Series, 2016


Knowledge sharing is a key pillar of Audette Exel’s philosophy.

Audette, our Session 2 Innovative Leader, is a lawyer, international finance expert, philanthropist and founder of Adara, a for-purpose business that supports women and children in Nepal and Uganda. Adara aims to share the findings of its work widely, so others can build on their success and learn from their mistakes.

“The most important thing that we do as an organisation, maybe, is talk about our mistakes. They don’t define us. They enrich us.” – Audette (Thread Publishing 2015)

Audette believes the biggest mistakes – mistakes that compromise your integrity or cause harm – happen when you rush into decisions alone. At last month’s Innovative Leaders Series (ILS) event, Audette spoke about a time, in the early days of Adara, in the neonatal unit in Uganda when moving too quickly, without taking into account the local context and the lack of resources available, resulted in the loss of a number of babies’ lives.

Audette says that this situation has long stayed with her as a reminder to always act with integrity and honesty. Clearly then, learning from her mistakes and working as a team, are the pillars of Audette’s success.

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Audette with Sr. Christine, head of the Kiwoko Hospital NICU, Uganda

At the ILS event, attendees stepped into Audette’s shoes to solve some of the most challenging ethical dilemmas in international development and business.

The GLP team were impressed with the creativity of the solutions, the balanced approaches and the concern for human rights. The GLP team was particularly impressed with the focus on interdisciplinary collaboration in the resolution below, which is why it has been chosen to be featured on the blog!

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Networking at the Innovative Leaders Series, Session 2, 2016

The dilemma: Energin, a large electrical company, is planning to build a hydroelectric dam on the Amazon. The dam will provide renewable energy and jobs. Energin has concealed a report that shows that the dam will result in a loss of biodiversity and displace indigenous communities. Publishing the report will likely close down the dam and impact the employment of the local people. As an employee of Energin, should you make the report public?

This ethical dilemma was based on the Belo Monte dam project in Brazil. Read more here

Well done Unzla Tariq, Lanie McHugh, Jess Binet, Maddison Poynter and Toni Lotte Chan.

Their resolution: Taking Audette’s advice, this group decided to take it slow and persevere with the dam project. They took a measured approach, weighing up their personal ethics and the pros and cons of proceeding with construction. They decided to collaborate with scientists from diverse fields to find innovative alternatives for the dam’s energy source, size and construction materials in the hope of improving the environmental impact. For example, they suggested along with implementing environmental conservation processes, to change the scale of the dam. They hoped this would minimise the impact of the displacement while still encouraging employment opportunities and energy production.

I would do everything possible to push for the best solution, however, at some point I may have to act in alignment with ethical principles. Audette’s talk has encouraged me to wait, maintain integrity and persevere when things look impossible” – Lanie

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Students reflecting on Audette’s advice at the Innovative Leaders Series, Session 2, 2016

The GLP Team would like to thank all the ILS attendees for engaging in thoughtful and meaningful discussion with their peers. We hope that you take Audette’s advice – working with honesty and integrity – into your own lives and continue to innovate for good.

#innovateGLPILS

The Innovative Leaders Series brings students from across the GLP together to hear from  innovators who have developed their ideas into means for catalysing positive social change. The ILS is a keynote event incorporating a Q&A session with our Innovative Leader, as well as a networking component. The ILS is run in the mid-Session break of both Session 1 and Session 2 and held on the Macquarie campus. 

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