When ‘ethical’ can be unethical…
A very interesting point was raised by a Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group member at last week’s meeting:
The easiest ethical choices are often not very ethical, for example it is easiest to avoid buying conflict minerals by avoiding buying from the Democratic Republic of Congo altogether, but you’re actually hurting a country which desperately needs a stronger economy. You should be supporting the ‘good’ mineral sector.
Wow! That triggers a whole load of questions in my mind:
- Where does the boundary of ethical responsibility lie?
- How do you assess the ethical implications of what good things you could do, but aren’t doing?
- Is it ethically OK to wash your hands of an issue like this, or should you dive in and try and solve it?
- Is there a responsibility for corporations to use their buying power for good?
- The press and NGOs have a tendency to take a very simplistic black and white view of business ethics issues – ironically given their own ethical missteps – what’s their responsibility to be objective and not chase a headline?
- Can ‘ethical’ legislation do more harm than good?
- When is it right to walk away?
Answers on the back of a postcard, please!