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Six things about business ethics and sustainability

1) Business ethics is initially internally driven, sustainability is initially externally .

2) Business ethics are how you work every day. Sustainability is how your company works every day and how that affects others beyond immediate impact/customers. So in supply chain terms business ethics is Tier One, Sustainability is Tiers Two, three, four and beyond…

3) Business ethics was originally about the individual responsibilities of the businessman, the owner operator. Sustainability has always been about organisational or systems impact.

4) Both are subjective. Both are often viewed as absolutes: ethics gets confused with compliance, and sustainability is often viewed as purely environmental in application.

5) Business ethics is rarely seen as a strategic issue, unless a company becomes embroiled in a major scandal. Sustainability often begins as a tactical response to perceived or real external pressures, but quickly becomes a corporate strategy issue if taken seriously.

6) Corporate responsibility is often a bridge between the two: A business response to internal and public interest in ethical and environmental impacts of the company.

N.B. I’m aware point two is very arguable/problematic.

1 Comment

  1. Cammie T.

    Toby,

    I totally agree with your six thoughts on business ethics. I believe that in order to maintain order and an appropriate work environment one must maintain the ethics of business.
    Point one does make a point about the use of business ethics in the workplace. It is something that is initially developed within, and then portrayed by each individual in the workplace.
    I believe that sustaining and maintaining business ethics in the workplace is a key to a successful business.
    I thank you for your post and hope that my comment was of some sort of contribution.

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