MIAMI, FL / ACCESSWIRE / November 22, 2022 / The role of ethics in business is too often confused and overcomplicated says Jozef Opdeweegh in his latest article published in Small Biz Club. Debates on why a business should act ethically, or the relevance of morals in the heat of market competition should not be the preserve of philosophers or priests, he claims. Rather they are everyday questions that ought to be addressed by all businesses. What's more, with a little reflection and commitment to the common good, it's possible to steer a path that delivers on profit as a decision-making measure.
Opdeweegh, the author of Fair Value, reflections on good business, is known for his thoughtful style. Drawing on a career that's included senior roles in Europe, the US, and Asia Pacific, he now promotes understanding through mindful learning and consideration of business ethics in a wider context. Born into a family of educators he grew up in Belgium, speaks three languages fluently, and believes there is much to be gained from a more human and reflective approach to the challenges faced by organizations today.
Acknowledging that attitudes have evolved, Opdeweegh argues that most businesses today recognize that morals matter -and especially so, given the impact that the actions of companies can have on issues such as the environment, social justice, and opportunity. There's also a growing recognition that acting with concerns for fairness, equality, and the wider good is often well aligned with the best interests of stakeholders.
And yet, claims Opdeweegh, there's often a reluctance to address ethical decision-making directly - perhaps for fear of getting into a less evidential territory, or a worry that it might hamper the bottom line. This is a fallacy, he says.
Expanding his argument, Opdeweegh references to evidence that shows companies with purposes and missions which go beyond mere financial metrics, perform better, and more sustainably so, than those with less expansive ambitions. Furthermore, those with a culture that's founded on clear values and a shared understanding of ‘how' we work together, are demonstrably better at attracting talent and engaging with their employees and customers. Survey after survey, he claims, shows it's not profit, but the purpose and belonging, that drives discretionary effort and builds brand loyalty.
What this means, is that while a concern for the bottom line is always necessary-and justifiably part of ethical considerations too- it is not sufficient to maximize value in the long term. To do this, Opdeweegh argues, companies must also be mindful of our wider impact, giving due regard to others and recognizing that their decisions and behaviors will ultimately define them and their brands. Perhaps most of all, organizations must look beyond immediate temptations to consider the risks and regrets of acting in ways that could undermine their reputations and associated goodwill.
And this need not be difficult, says Opdeweegh, referencing the German thinker Emmanuel Kant who encapsulated the whole of ethical decision into a single maxim: that we should always act as if our decisions were a law that others would follow. Centuries earlier the Gospels said something much the same: that we should treat others as we would have them treat us. Opdeweegh argues these are not just glib statements, rather they are simple guides that have stood the test of time and in similar forms are acknowledged by good people in virtually all societies across the globe.
In concluding his thoughts, Opdeweegh claims he's mindful of not wishing to sound puritanical. Rather he wants to emphasize that ethical decision-making ought to be a little different from the way we live our everyday lives. None of us, he says, warms to selfish individuals or feels good about decisions we've taken that we know were less equitable. In contrast, we go out of our way for those who treat us well; we trust those who keep their word, and we understand that care and generosity work both ways.
Put this way, says Opdeweegh, the questions on the role of ethics in business become much simpler to answer.
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SOURCE: Jozef Opdeweegh