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February 23, 2012 / mike54martin

Do the Right Thing

 

I find it strange that we still have to teach MBA students ethics before we send them out into the world. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing but if we didn’t teach them would they feel free to lie, cheat and steal?

And it’s not just MBA students or used car salesmen who need some ethics lessons. There is a trail of greed and slime that can easily be traced back to some of the biggest and most famous boardrooms in this country and around the world. One of the latest cases involves Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin and some of their people who may have been involved with trying to help one of Gaddafi’s sons find refuge inMexico.

That is to say nothing about Canadian mining and oil and gas companies who have been working closely in not just Libya but Sudan, Uganda, Nigeria and dozens of other countries where indigenous peoples have been used, misused and abused by their partners in government. They might call it just doing business and they may not have blood directly on their hands but if they are paying bribes or kickbacks then they are also responsible.

Years ago there was little discussion about business ethics and what happened in Vegas or Nairobi orDarfur stayed there. Now with super-fast communications and the Internet we can see what is happening on the ground, even in remote villages and inside secret regimes like Syria. This has added a level of public accountability to businesses that operate internationally and is one of the major reasons why trans-national corporations have developed an interest in ethics. They want to protect themselves, their corporate image and ultimately their share price in the stock market.

But do companies that operate just in Canada need ethics as well? Absolutely. They need to protect themselves from liability if one of their employees goes off on the wrong track. But what the smarter companies have found is that it also makes good business sense.

Many organizations have found that the real value of their workplace ethics program is in solidifying customer and client relationships, improving overall employee morale and positive improvements in their bottom line. This comes from having happier and more productive employees and maintaining and increasing the customer base. All positive and healthy signs for any business or organization.

And in case anyone was wondering, it’s also the right thing to do.

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One Comment

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  1. John / Feb 23 2012 4:28 pm

    Wow! Great article. I totally agree with you. Greed is so prevalent in today’s business environment that no one stops to think about the moral issues. As money and wealth become more and more influential in our society I don’t see this problem getting any better in the future.

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