Is ethical business less successful? 

Posted on: May 8th, 2017 by Staffan Engstrom

I have heard debates rage on the merits or otherwise of ethical business* for years. Many people perceive a difference between how they feel a business should behave versus how they think it will behave. The assumption is that to be in business you must necessarily be both mean and dishonest. This is plain wrong.

There are serious consequences for businesses who behave in a less-than-ethical way. Take a look at how United Airlines hospitalised a legitimately booked passenger as they removed him from a flight to make space for one of their own staff. It makes a mockery of their own Customer Commitment: ‘Our goal is to make every flight a positive experience for our customers’. It has resulted in huge damage to the brand and to trust in the company.

I have met many different business leaders and teams, and have concluded that there are basically four key ‘types’ when it comes to the ethics agenda in business.Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 17.34.59

Every business must consider its approach to ethics as an enabler to success. There must be a deep understanding of how ethics issues will deliver success whilst at the same time avoiding aspects that are irrelevant, distracting, or unhelpful.

How can you be more successful through developing your approach to ethical business? The attached paper goes into more detail on the different approaches, and how to make it work for you.


*or call it ‘responsible’, ‘sustainable’, ‘doing the right thing’ etc.