Being ethical in business is not as simple as ‘doing the right thing’
06 November 2013, Financial Times Autor: John Kay
“Honesty is the best policy, but he who is governed by that maxim is not an honest man.” Richard Whately, Archbishop of Dublin, was a 19th-century theologian, but his observation is very relevant to a modern debate about the nature of business ethics.
The Co-operative Bank has just announced a restructuring that wipes out the value of existing equity. Over many years, the message of the bank’s advertising has been its aspiration to higher standards of ethical conduct than its competitors. The devil’s advocates might seize on the bank’s financial problems as evidence that honesty does not pay, but that is not what happened here: the Co-op Bank failed for the usual reasons banks and businesses fail – bad lending on commercial property and the misguided acquisition…
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