The Business of Ethics

23rd November 2016

Posted In: The Topic | WMB Advice
Ros O'Shea

There is nothing unethical about making money. While we may not agree with Gordon Gekko that “Greed is good”, ambition and the pursuit of wealth are necessary catalysts for any successful business. However, ethical behaviour and profit do not have to be mutually exclusive; in fact, they can and should be compatible.

Words: Ros O’Shea

To date business ethics has largely been treated as a ‘tick-the-box’ exercise, but recent scandals: Volkswagen, FIFA, Anglo Irish Bank and Console, to name just a few, highlight the irreparable damage that can be caused by bad behaviour.

This is especially so when you consider how quickly even the whiff of scandal can be tweeted, tagged, or texted. As Warren Buffet remarked ÒIt takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to lose it. At a time when public trust in business leaders has fallen to an all-time low, it is imperative to develop a clear, ethical approach. How you do things is as, or more, important as what you do. Put another way, it pays to be nice.

A principal function of leadership is to achieve this alignment between values and purpose by fostering an ethical culture. No venture is too big or too small for this fundamental task. It doesn’t cost a cent. The payback is huge. Yet it is not for the faint-hearted as it requires deep personal reflection, life-long learning and a genuine commitment to leading with integrity. Mastering this “business of ethics” involves a two step approach: first developing the core competencies of ethical leadership and then putting them into practice.

Read the article in full here (pdf).