Ethics as Business Startegy


Ethics and business goals usually find it difficult to find a common ground. Though every business maintains that they follow all ethics, then so we really believe them? Even if it is a perception, it is so well set that it is a big challenge for businesses to undo it.

Paul Sloane in his post Use Your Ethics to Drive Your Innovation gives examples of businesses that took that route. He talks about Volvo that did not patent a seat belt design so that the customers can get the benefit of their new design in any car and not just their cars. I loved his example of Patagonia – where the company did not want their customers to buy more than it is needed. I loved this example. To me, the solution to the problem is to consume what is needed and not what is available. Body Shop’s example is better known.

After reading this article, I tried hard to think of businesses in India, especially in this age, if there are any who could fall in this category. I know once upon a time Tata Group of companies had that reputation, but I am not sure if that still holds good. Infosys created that perception and used that as a PR tool for a long time, but that was another time. I remember I was working for them when a business magazine survey put them as No 1 employer. When I looked at the fine print – in employee perception they were in mid 30s or 40s. So except for their own employees, everyone else thought they were the best employers. But then this may be the case of being too close to the company, you never know there may be similar stories hidden in the above mentioned examples as well.

I remember reading about a software product company, based somewhere in Europe that said – we do not want to grow mindlessly. We are about 100 employees at the moment and we are doing just fine. All of us have enough money to live well and we can do this exciting work for the rest of our lives. I just can not recall the name of the company, but from an employee perspective, that is what should keep you very happy. Do what you are doing without a constant pressure to grow more and more – for no reason. Like they say ‘ Growth for the sake of growth is what the cancer cells do’.

If you can think of a company that uses ethics as part of its strategy, let me know….

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