In a lecture at Harvard Business School, Phil Angelides, chair of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, was clear: The 2008 financial crisis was avoidable and caused by failed leadership and regulatory recklessness.

The federally-appointed commission was founded to investigate the events that led to the economic recession that began in 2008. Angelides has called the investigation “two-tiered,” both analyzing the overall crisis as well as the specific practices and events that occurred.

Since findings were released in January, Angelides has been speaking and presenting the commission’s analysis to business leaders and students around the country and abroad.

“What motivates me is that in the past year and a half I met so many families who were doing everything right, but then found themselves losing their jobs and losing their homes,” Angelides said. “I want to stand up for them and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Attendee and student organizer William J. Fotsch said, “He explained how we can keep a head on our shoulders. We have to pay attention to the ethical implications of the business decisions we make.”

While Angelides said he had concerns about the future, he was optimistic about the capacity for ethical responsibility in leadership.

“Capital doesn’t have a conscience, but the people that manage capital do,” Angelides said.

In an interview last month with CNN news forum The Arena, Angelides said, “There are many successful business people in this country who run good enterprises, deliver good products and services, treat their employees well, and contribute to the well-being of our communities and our nation. But we have also seen too many instances of corporate and financial irresponsibility that have been damaging to achieving sustained, broadly shared economic prosperity for our country.”

For more articles about ethics, see:

Grow your business with ethics-driven marketing (part I)

Managing ethical dilemmas in tough times

Planning your ethical flight for 2011