The concept of an ethical business is one that has gathered much attention in recent years. If you want to mantain your business reputation you need to be free from accusations of unethical behaviour. This page looks at ethics and how to develop an ethical culture.
Ethical organisations look to meet the needs of all their stakeholders which includes the communities and the environments in which they operate as well as their own workforce.
Here are some examples of well known businesses and how they operate in an ethical way.
Marks and Spencer
Ensure all their goods are produced in good working conditions. Develop agreed ethical standards between company and supplier.
Colgate have a sustainability strategy that looks at three areas the Planet, People and Performance. They want to improve the health and welfare of their staff and their customers, they want to reduce the negative impact their production techniques have on the environment and they want to ensure that they use as much recycling in their manufacturing and use responsibly sourced materials.
PepsiCo build their guiding principal around sustainability and caring for their customers, consumers and the world in which we live. They refer to embracing diversity and inclusion and respecting others. PepsiCo delivered care packages to earthquake victims in China.
Something can be unethical but not illegal. Take for example the food labelling laws in the UK. In order to call your product reduced fat, it must contain 30% less fat than your standard product. However, in order to improve the taste many manufacturers add more sugar than the standard product contains. By law this increase in sugar compared to the standard product does not have to be made known to consumers. It might be unethical to omit the % sugar increase from the label, but it’s not against the law.
From the 1970s Nike began to use factories in low-wage, developing nations such as People's Republic of China and Vietnam. These factories became known as 'sweatshops' for their poor working conditions.Find out more
Shell wanted to dispose of their Brent Spar oil platform into the Atlantic Ocean. Greenpeace started a long campaign to prevent this from happening.Find out more
Lehman Brothers were one of the world's largest investment banks. At the end of the 90s and into 00s they invested heavily into the deregulated markets of mortgage debt.Find out more
In 2015 VW were accused of deliberately deceiving regulators that it’s diesel cars had lower emissions.Find out more
Most professional bodies in the majority of industries have a code of ethics. You should look to your own professional or even regulatory bodies to see what codes of ethics they expect their members or organisations to abide by.
If staff have behaved unethically then you should follow your disciplinary procedure for dealing with misconduct.
Find out more guidance and advice around ethical business practices at the IBE website.Read more
Go to this section for more information on employment law and how to ensure your staff are managed effectively and ethically.Read more
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