Just Recruitment Group Ltd Director Peter Foy reflects on the value of morality in contemporary commerce.
Most people working in the business world tend to believe that companies are there to make money.
|When the communities in which we operate thrive, we thrive. When they suffer, we suffer.|
Put simply, a company’s primary business is business. It needs to generate wealth for its shareholders. If it performs some good deeds in the process – a bit of positive Corporate Social Responsibility work here, some charitable giving there – all well and good. But the bottom line is, well, the bottom line.
I want to challenge that wisdom. I don’t think money-making is the full story for contemporary commercial operations. Yes, it’s important. But unless businesses contribute to healthy communities, they stand very little chance of flourishing.
Why communities matter
Just consider for a moment. It is from our communities that we draw employees, customers, champions and critics. If we’re not surrounded by a vibrant grouping of people with a clearly defined sense of the common good, we may as well not be trading.
When the communities in which we operate thrive, we thrive. When they suffer, we suffer. We are wedded to our neighbours and they to us. Our destinies are entwined.
That explains why businesses that don’t look out for the people around them so often fail. We rely on our neighbours, as they rely on us. To use a phrase that was unfortunately hijacked by politicians a decade or so ago, we’re in it together.
The message is simple: business needs to be rooted in community. Greed isn’t good. Mutuality and other-regard are.
Of course, the notion that business should take account of ethics is by no means novel. Adam Smith, the man often cited as the father of the laissez-faire economy, stressed the need for Corporate Social Responsibility. The market is right but the market needs management. Individual greed must not be allowed to damage the common good.
Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.com, is eloquent in his belief that businesses need to be generous with their profits and talents to develop the communities in which they trade. He argues forcibly that this generosity should continue even when times are hard. When communities suffer, so do corporations. They need to stand alongside one another.
Professor Shah approaches the issue from a slightly different angle. As an academic, he is concerned with how our future business people, i.e. his students, are equipped to enter the market. His major thesis is that commerce needs to be rooted in a lived ethics: for business to prosper in an acceptable fashion, its practitioners must have a societal framework from which they can draw an ethical pattern.
Knowing right from wrong
In other words: business people need to know right from wrong and feel compelled to act accordingly.
The Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) regularly publishes surveys of the general public’s perception concerning the morality of businesses. You can see Just Recruitment’s summary of some of its most recent findings by clicking on the video above. The understanding of what is ethical in the survey is divided into two categories:
Cross these lines and you break the law. So, speak out.
Are you, as an employee, happy with the environment you are working in?
In its own ethical guide, the IBE states:
“We recognise that this Guide cannot cover every challenge that you might face in your work. In these situations, we trust you to use your personal judgment to make the right decisions.”
|...business needs to be rooted in the community. Greed isn’t good. Mutuality and other-regard are.|
This, I think, is the rub. Because, for a person to have trustworthy judgement, they must have some understanding of right and wrong. And that’s why companies need to have ethical practice hardwired into their operations. Ethics should be in every business’s DNA.
How else will employees calibrate their moral compass?
Here’s my challenge to the business community: we should consider how to enshrine morality in our companies, not only so that we’re committed to doing the right thing at a corporate level.
More important even that is to shape the dispositions of our people, so they know how to live, and flourish, in the world.
© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd
Published: 12 December 2019
|Sector:||Engineering and Manufacturing
|Salary:||Discussed on application|
Our client is seeking an experienced Quality Assurance Manager to join them on a permanent, full-time basis. This opportunity offers stability, longevity and professional development.
Reporting directly to the MD, the Quality Assurance Manager will be responsible for:
|Salary:||£22,000 per annum|
Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting a well-regarded organisation at the forefront of its sector that is looking to add a Customer Service Administrator to its team, due to growth – based on the outskirts of Halstead.
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|Sector:||Engineering and Manufacturing
|Salary:||£8.91 per hour|
Want to work in a safe, clean environment?
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Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Temporary Production Operative to be based in Needham Market.
8.30am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday
|Sector:||Transport, Logistics and Shipping
|Salary:||£24,000 per annum|
Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting, a well-regarded, family-run business on the outskirts of Ipswich.
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|Sector:||Law and Security
|Salary:||Up to £11.00 per hour|
Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting an established business, based in Witham looking to add a highly-skilled secretary to their long-standing team.
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|Sector:||Accountancy, Banking and Finance
|Salary:||£9.50 - £10.00 per hour|
Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting, a well-regarded, family-run business on the outskirts of Sudbury.
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