What place does ethics have in business?

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.

Expert opinion

These sentiments have been well articulated by businesspeople such as Marc Benioff and academics like Professor Atul Shah, who works at the University of Suffolk.

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:

1) Legal

  • Financial probity
  • Discrimination
  • Prejudice

Cross these lines and you break the law. So, speak out.

2) Subjective

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.  

Forming judgments

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?

The challenge

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

If you liked this article you may like to read: Ten of the most common “neuromyths”

You may also like to read: The knowledge: find out what you stand for

Jobs currently available

New job
QA Manager
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: Discussed on application
Location: Saffron Walden
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910873
About the role

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:

  • Maintaining and improving the Company's Quality Management System and ensure internal compliance
  • Working with all departments to ensure their procedures are being followed and to improve their internal and cross-functional processes and procedures
  • Ensure that the quality of current and newly introduced products is compliant and traceable
  • Coordinate Quality activities with all over departments
  • Develop and improve quality relationships with all customers of the Company
  • Responsible for all Quality activities and personnel in the Quality Department for the Company
  • Provide strong leadership in the day-to-day operations of the Quality department and mentor the members of the team
  • Establish performance goals for all departmental employees and monitor performance on a continual basis
  • Oversee all hiring, appraisal, training and discipline of Quality personnel
  • Member of the Company's Management team
  • Produce the Quality element of the company's annual Budget
  • Formulate the departmental strategy aligned to the overall Company strategy
  • Embed a Continuous Improvement culture within the Quality Dept and contribute to the Continuous Improvement programme across the site


  • HND or equivalent qualification in Engineering or a related technical field required
  • Minimum 5 years experience in a Manufacturing environment
  • Ability to articulate (verbally and in writing), defend and negotiate Quality expectations with internal and external customers at all levels of management
  • Good interpersonal skills with the ability to guide and educate/train at all levels
Read more
New job
Customer Service Administrator
Sector: Customer Service
Salary: £22,000 per annum
Location: Halstead
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910871
About the role

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.

The main purpose of the role is to service current and prospective customers by receiving and processing orders, enquiries and general information in a timely and courteous manner.

Key tasks include:

  • Answering incoming calls, giving product information, lead times, dealing with general enquiries and queries, redirecting calls to relevant departments
  • Raising and inputting orders and proforma invoices
  • Raising quotations
  • Amending orders, as required
  • Scanning documentation
  • Liaising with Areas Sales Managers and responding to their requests
  • Arranging couriers and/or carriers as required
  • Any general office associated duties

Key requirements for the role:

  • Excellent computer skills
  • Good eye for detail
  • The ability to work well under pressure
  • Courteous

Previous experience requirements:

  • Previous Customer Service Administrative experience gained within an office environment
  • Excellent telephone manner with the ability to communicate at all levels
  • High level of attention to detail and accuracy
  • Good working knowledge of Microsoft Office and experience of in-house systems
  • Ability to multi-task and prioritise own workload
  • Exceptional communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Understanding of the importance of data protection and adherence to the process

Offering free parking and an excellent working environment, this is a great opportunity to join a growing team.

Working Monday to Friday 37.5 hours per week - offering a competitive salary and company benefits.

Read more
New job
Production Operative
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £8.91 per hour
Location: Needham Market
Role: Full Time
Contract: Temporary
Job ref: 910811
About the role

Want to work in a safe, clean environment?
And have the possibility of ongoing work?

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Temporary Production Operative to be based in Needham Market.

Duties include:

  • Ensure all final and completed products are packed to the customer specifications                               
  • Informing Line Leaders of defects found in the products
  • Keep machines supplied with packing materials and labels
  • Assist the Line Leaders with handovers and changeovers
  • Responsible for general cleanliness of the production area and removal of production and general waste
  • Check products on the line for quality and defects
  • Basic production duties carried out in a fast-paced environment

Working hours:

8.30am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday

Read more
New job
Logistics Coordinator
Sector: Transport, Logistics and Shipping
Salary: £24,000 per annum
Location: Ipswich
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910869
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting, a well-regarded, family-run business on the outskirts of Ipswich.

You will be responsible for assisting with the loads out operation of the business by ensuring that the process from collection to arrival at the final destination is fully supported by the relevant goods in haulage documentation.

You will also be supporting the sales function of the business by dealing with customer queries in terms of both sales and operations as well as assisting with various ad-hoc marketing campaigns. This is a very varied role and requires flexibility, commitment and a substantial desire to learn and grow with the flourishing business.

Duties will include:

  • Process orders and oversees the order to completion of paperwork
  • Facilitate the shipping of products from one destination to another
  • Arrange transportation with outside hauliers
  • Receive paperwork from the Weighbridge department and check and complete the paperwork within the allocated time allowed
  • Answer calls and emails relating to customer queries and log them on the CRM system and resolve any outstanding issues raised
  • Keep CRM records up-to-date
  • Work with the sales and operations team to ensure that high customer service levels are achieved and delivered to all customers you are responsible for at all times

Skills required:

  • Good Microsoft skills including Word, Outlook & Excel
  • Ability to work proactively on an independent basis as well as be a good team player
  • You will have the interpersonal skills necessary to develop and sustain effective relationships with team members of other departments and with all customers
  • Good attention to detail and analytical skills
Read more
New job
Legal Secretary (Part-Time)
Sector: Law and Security
Salary: Up to £11.00 per hour
Location: Witham
Role: Part Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910868
About the role

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.

The role will involve, audio typing, preparing documents, answering the phone, dealing with enquiries and assisting colleagues as well as directing queries as needed.

Key responsibilities to include:

  • Audio typing – dictation
  • Preparing letters and drafting documents
  • Handling diaries and booking appointments
  • Answering the phone and dealing with queries
  • General secretarial and office-based duties

As well as having experience in a secretarial position, you will have audio typing experience and excellent typing skills. The role requires you to have a good level of IT literacy, experience of Word (essential) and Excel would be useful. You will take pride in your work and have a caring and sympathetic nature.

Please note this role is part-time.

This is a great opportunity, offering a good pay rate and company benefits.

Read more
Accounts Assistant
Sector: Accountancy, Banking and Finance
Salary: £9.50 - £10.00 per hour
Location: Sudbury
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910867
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting, a well-regarded, family-run business on the outskirts of Sudbury.

They are looking to add an Accounts Assistant with payroll experience to their team.

Key duties include:

  • Responsible for weekly and monthly payroll’s on Sage and all related duties (holiday forms etc.)
  • Knowledge of Xero accounts
  • Purchase Ledger
  • Sales Ledger
  • Chasing payments
  • Exporting mail-order invoices and credit notes from Magento to Xero
  • Assist Bookkeeper with any accounts duties
  • Assist Bookkeeper with HR Duties as needed
  • Reconciling Braintree payments to Mail Order invoices
  • Assist with stocktaking and valuation

Knowledge of Xero and Microsoft Office would be advantageous, although Sage experience would be considered. Attention to detail, good time management skills, accuracy, approachable and reliability is a must.

Free parking is available on site, offering a competitive hourly rate and an excellent working environment.

Read more