Good ethics is good business

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Good ethics is good business

There are three ways to approach this statement:

  1. all decisions are related to business; business is not inherently unethical so both types of decision are the same

  2. business decisions are inherently unethical because they are interest only in what benefits the business, serving the profit motive

  3. most business decisions do not involve ethics, but occasionally a choice has to be made. At this point companies would benefit from ethical guidance perhaps in the form of a policy that sets out what the business must do in such circumstances

Because customers will be drawn to ethical companies, it seems obvious that good ethics is good business. Business that act with integrity, honour their agreements, do not cheat their suppliers or act rudely towards their customers should, therefore have more customers and thus more profit than those that do not act in the same way. 

 ‘doing the right thing by stakeholders also benefits stockholders too’ - Anthony Weston

However, this is not the experience most of us have of business. Self-interest drives companies towards a desire to increase profits and leads many businesses away from ‘doing the right thing’. Competition is the driving force of our capitalist economy, and customers expect this. For instance, a company that offers an ‘ethical’ price for an honest job will often be undercut by another company looking to maximise profits. Customers and investors have very little loyalty to one business if another one produces something they like more, or sells

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