The Principle of Ethical Business:
Three years ago my business, Susan Chan Associates, established a connection and foundation with the business community in Shanghai, offering a ‘Health, Well-being and Resilience’ consultancy. *
We are experts in the many dimensions of Mindfulness by working with people to overcome the stress of everyday personal and business life. We work within the corporate world and within communities. We have a focus with clients looking for ‘Premier Wellness’.
We may have a view on how the Chinese ‘do’ business. We may think of market domination, expansion at all cost, even a reckless approach to the environment. Often the reality is so different. One thing is clear. Shanghai is full of ‘stressed out’ CEO’s, managers and workers. Another trend that is becoming more obvious is a growing interest and concern with conducting ‘ethical business’.
In June of 2016, we, Ian Geddes (business partner and husband) and myself were invited to present at a seminar at the Shanghai Art Centre. This seminar was organised by Denise Li, Vice Chairman and President, PGC Capital. This global financial development company states its values and vision as follows:
- Accomplish Goals through Sincerity – Integrity
- Deliver on our Commitments – Trust
- Uphold Moral Convictions - Virtue
- Strong Ethics and Governance – Principled
- We seek to create an environment where wealth is created and used for the greater good of everyone
- Our goal is to enhance our clients’ portfolio and outlook on life
Sound good! So can all this be applied to the UK? Ethical Business examines principles and moral issues that arise in the business environment. It can apply to all aspects of business conduct and is relevant to the conduct of individuals and entire organisations. The core values concern how companies treat their employees, suppliers, sales techniques and accounting practices, investors, customers, the local and global environment and communities.
Companies do not operate in a vacuum. They are part of a wider society or community. There is a growing feeling that economic growth is often based on competition and the search for profit, sometimes based on greed and exploitation. Established business schools around the world incorporate classic economic principles into their MBA courses. We believe that operating with integrity is good business.
A recent IBEA/ MORI research identified a wide range of ethical issues and conflicts in the UK today: Tax avoidance, excessive levels of executive pay, employees not able to voice their views, bribery and corruption, discrimination, excessive hospitality and cronyism, a lack of concern over workload, and the physical and mental health of the workforce, lack of environmental stewardship and insufficient regard to the local community.
Our newspapers frequently report related concerns. Prominent business people have been named (and shamed).
It is not possible in such a short article to cover the solutions to this lack of ethical concern. We can take steps at both a business level as well as an academic level. Ethical issues are not directly opposite to issues of quality, efficiency, profitability, reliability and service. There is research and investment currently being undertaken looking to challenge existing economic theories based on our current approach to capitalism. There is an alternative. Companies that believe in integrity, honesty, respect, trust, openness, fairness and transparency have a future. Have a look at your company and consider whether you have still some way to go before you can genuinely say that your business is ethical in all that you do.
Ian Geddes and Susan Chan