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Business Ethics

Business and industry are essential and good for society, but why bother even considering ethics; it's for wusses isn't it? Well no.

  • Investments If you acquire a business who've quietly exploited others - say third world or child labour - to cheaply manufacture its goods, you could lose not only the whole value of that investment, but your own good name too
  • Talent Loss If you become reknown as an employer who exploits his employees and treats them as commodities, the talent will go elsewhere, probably to the competition
  • Brand Value The reputation and esteem of your brand is a powerful intangible asset, but if you are perceived as underpaying the taxes your customers still have to stump up for, you can foster resentment and alienate them to the point where they very deliberately devise a strategy to replace you in their business plans

There can be many grey areas between that which is legal and what we accept as proper in the course of trade and enterprise. Get it right and although it often goes unrecognised, you will maintain a good reputation and perhaps even plaudits. Get it wrong and a good reputation can be catastrophically undermined with dire consequences for profitability or even the very existence of your business. This is particularly the case if in the course of business growth, you acquire the business of another entity about whom you may know little. This is where Ethical Due Diligence (EDD) assumes a critical role in identifying unwelcome skeletons in the cupboard of the target business.

There are many facets to business that would lead decent, honest people and businesses to believe there is behaviour that can instead be characterised as fraudulent, criminal, unethical, deceptive or unconscionable; collectively despicable business.

Quite where the boundaries lie for each of these can depend upon national, cultural, individual or personal values. Many firms now fall over themselves to devise and promote their ethical values through such documents as a Statement of Ethics, Ethical Standards or a Statement of Business Principles. Invariably these are scripted to make all the right noises, but often if you delve deeper, they can be full of weasel words or speak volumes through what they leave out. Furthermore they are not strictly legal documents, and such good principles as may be trumpeted may be impossible to enforce. Instead you need a different strategy to hold a business to account.

The businesses which make up an industry are driven and delivered by individuals, and at its root it is their (personal) behaviour which embeds these despicable practises. They may not believe they can change their enterprise personally – they’re wrong – and so carry on in ways that continue to contribute to the bad practises. We are here to draw attention to such bad practises and offer guidance and support to combat it, whether when dealing with others or with your own business. Where individuals or firms who want to work together approach their relationship with different values there is the potential for unintended conflict and disagreement.

At our core is the principle that integrity should apply as much to a business or trade as between individuals. This goes further than mere legal compliance, into doing what is "right". Our aim is to help you demonstrate integrity in business dealings and to earn plaudits for high ethical standards.