Ethikos Weekly Editor’s Picks – May 13, 2014


Editor’s Top Choice:

Is your company culture costing you money? 

From Profit Advisory Group:

What do you think is the biggest differentiator between two companies existing in the same marketplace? There are undeniable arguments to be made for differentiators like location, quality, price, marketing, or customer service.  All of these factors will have an effect in the market but one factor that often gets overlooked and affects all the potential differentiators above is company culture.

Howard Stevenson, Public Admin Professor and writer for Harvard Business Review has said: “Maintaining an effective culture is so important that it, in fact, trumps even strategy.”

Does Culture Affect Your Bottom Line?

It is no secret that a great company culture will help you to recruit and retain top level employees, but do you give culture enough credit for affecting the bottom line? Some of the best companies in the world really put their money where their mouth is when it comes to culture.

Zappos, a multi-billion dollar online retailer credits it’s culture, or as they call it, the Zappos Family Core Values, as the key to their unbelievable growth and success. The CEO, Tony Hsieh has written a book, Delivering Happiness, about the Zappos rise in the online retail world and it largely focuses on how they built their culture. Read more

Other Featured Picks of the Week

Does the compliance officer own corporate character?

Aarti Maharaj, writing for The FCPA Blog writes, “Trust in business has plummeted to a historic low, according to a recent study by Ethisphere Institute, and the composite score of trust across many industries is a cause for concern.

The 2014 Ethics Communications Best Practices Report provides a snapshot into some of the key trends in business ethics and features insights and perspectives from industry leaders, academics, and corporate governance and legal professionals.

‘If we talk about what we are doing well, then we are not being transparent,’ says Mitchell Mackler, geographic head of legal, Americas, at Wipro, a multinational information technology consulting and system integration company.

‘There are bound to be bumps in any organization, and I believe that by being open, honest and transparent, we hold ourselves accountable to the public at large, our shareholders, nongovernmental organizations, etc., and in turn, continue to build a stronger company.’” Read more

Can we make ethics scientific?

From Christopher-Marcus Gibson on the Huffington Post’s “The Thesis Project” blog, “The motivation for my honors thesis springs from our often irresolvable disagreements about moral and political issues in the public square: issues ranging from educational and economic reform to health care and immigration policy, in which we often disagree about not just the answers to our questions, but the standards that will justify them. Such intractable disagreements, and the incompatible ethical theories that often lie behind them, led me to address in my honors thesis the following question: ‘How far we can make ethics scientific?’ As a result of my research I claim that although acculturation and character development play a major role in determining the ethical claims we find persuasive, a rigorous empirical science of ethics could still be an attainable goal for us. If undertaken, such an approach to ethics could go some way toward providing potential methods of resolution for our fiercest moral and political disagreements.…” Read more

Emerging markets and their ethical challenge

Andrew Leigh of Ethical Leadership writes, “From China to Brazil, emergent nations claim one thing in common. They are fast growing and lure some of the largest firms to invest in them. A further pang of hunger comes from the West’s own slowdown.

It is hard not to be impressed by the vitality of these newer markets. UK firms for instance, now win over one quarter (28.2%) of their income from them. We can expect these markets to further increase five-fold, becoming larger than the developed world by 2050.

Such hot sources for business pose questions about what it means to run a responsible business. What passes as legal in China for example, may be quite the opposite in the West.

Leaders seeking to stay ethical often feel torn. They must stay on the right side of laws in their own countries. Meanwhile they must ensure sound business behaviour elsewhere. Often this brings them into conflict with local laws and culture…” Read more

Ethical behavior is just smart business

Peter Post, of The Boston Globe:

Emily Post once wrote, “Etiquette must, if it is to be of more than trifling use, include ethics as well as manners.”

Ethical behavior has a moral component to it, whereas manners in and of themselves do not. For instance, which fork to use is a manner with no moral component. But taking someone else’s lunch from the office refrigerator does.

The various roles people fill in business have ethical or moral aspects to them. For example, being an ethical customer can result in receiving exemplary service from a provider. The ethical customer always engages in business with a provider in an honest and forthright way. For instance, he doesn’t ask a vendor to provide a detailed presentation or a sample of work when he has no intention of hiring the vendor, or intends to use the spec work without paying for it. In addition the ethical customer:

  • Makes sure vendors receive payment on time.
  • Doesn’t accept any gifts or favors as inducements to work with a specific vendor.
  • Avoids conflicts of interest in choosing a vendor. The choice should be based on price and the ability of the vendor to deliver, not because the vendor is also a cousin.
  • Negotiates agreements and then expects the vendor to deliver only the agreed-upon services within the agreed-upon time frame.
  • Makes sure he or she delivers any expected information or materials within the contracted time frame so the vendor can meet deadlines.

Read more

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