The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) has called on ASIC, APRA and Treasury to meet with company directors to discuss recent examples of "egregious and unacceptable behaviour in some organisations".
In a statement released yesterday, AICD chief executive officer John Brogden called on the corporate and prudential regulators to join with Treasury in a "high-level" meeting with company directors on culture.
"We fully recognise that there are examples of egregious and unacceptable behaviour in some organisations. Current debate isn't constructive and the best way to progress is for stakeholders to sit down and discuss the issues," Mr Brogden said.
Mr Brogden said that directors "creating and nurturing the right culture" and setting the "right tone from the top" is crucial to an organisation's success.
"Our sole objective should be to ensure that Australia’s corporate culture is the best in the world and works to the benefit of the community-at-large," he said.
Mr Brogden's comments come as the executive director of The Ethics Centre and member of the AICD corporate governance committee, Dr Simon Longstaff, launched a heated attack upon the "disgraceful" views of senior company directors, who he says have sought to excuse themselves from responsibility for the cultures of companies they govern.
"That [company directors] should adopt this aggressive stance against responsibility, especially in the wake of a growing number of corporate scandals, is quite remarkable," Mr Longstaff said.
"If company directors are not ultimately responsible for the most important factor in shaping the conduct of a corporation – culture – then who is?"
He added: "In what is either a breathtaking display of ignorance or a wilful misrepresentation of the law, ASIC’s critics have consistently failed to mention that the character of a corporation’s culture has been a feature of Australia’s criminal law since 1996.
"That is, the concept of corporate culture has been a defined legal term for 20 years. Not once, in all of that time, has a company director expressed public concern."