ethikos 34, no. 11 (November 2020)
A recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal stressed that today’s consumers and stakeholders are ethically minded, and companies ignore this trend at their peril. There is a wide variety of concerns a company must address, not merely the bottom line and ensuring market access by following all relevant laws. The editorial lists some of the major concerns—boardroom diversity, supply chain resilience, human rights advocacy, carbon emissions reduction, employee morale and motivation, and political lobbying—and provides a road map for companies trying to build ethics into their compliance programs.
Some of the measures the editorial advocates for are (i) for companies to step back from sales-based commission to prevent pressured employees from cutting ethical corners to meet unrealistic goals and (ii) for the establishment of “chief ethics officers,” who could monitor compliance programs and infuse ethics into the company culture. The editorial also mentions codes of conduct as powerful tools for improving ethics in the boardroom.
“Regulatory requirements are growing more complex and inconsistent across jurisdictions, while ethical performance has become a separate critical dimension in managing risk and reputation,” wrote Alison Taylor, executive director of Ethical Systems, a research collaboration based at NYU Stern School of Business. “Creating a credible ethics program requires conscious consideration of compliance, culture and corporate responsibility.”
1 Alison Taylor, “How Companies Can Create an Ethics Program for a New Era,” The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2020, https://on.wsj.com/34NpE2A.