The Award

An award for ethics in a time of shifting imperatives

The Idea

There’s no denying: Today’s corporate leaders face complex and novel challenges unseen to business leaders of the past. With the world in flux like never before, profits can’t simply be an organization’s North Star (frankly, they never were). Today, the best leaders approach challenges with an ethical framework that unlocks sound solutions to our most pressing issues, while also generating profits and benefiting society.

To shine a light on and encourage principled leadership, the McGowan Fund has initiated the William G. McGowan Ethical Leader of the Year Award. Candidates—CEOs working in the United States—are nominated and evaluated on their principles and practices by a panel of judges made up of peers. In 2024, the winner will be honored at the conference of the Society for Human Resource Management in Chicago and will receive a $25,000 grant to donate to a nonprofit of their choice.


The Details

Candidates assessed by committee of peers  | $25,000 donation | Celebration in Chicago, mid-June 2024

Why us? Why ethics? Because our heritage demands it

The Story

Our namesake, William G. McGowan, was a world-renowned business leader who led with great integrity. But after he retired from MCI—his brainchild—the firm swerved into one of the nation’s largest frauds. Then came the nation’s financial crisis. That’s when the Fund launched the McGowan Fellows Program to cultivate the next generation of values-based decision makers. The McGowan Award continues in that tradition: supporting and celebrating principled leadership. In fact, one of our McGowan alums serves on the selection committee.


The Details

We lead the Fund according to the McGowan Principles | Meet McGowan alums | What Bill Would Do