Can an ‘Ethical Core’ drive business growth?
I have a theory. It concerns the role of ethics within companies.
The theory is that if you embed an ethical core within a company, then focus on that core, fuelling it into expansion, it will permeate the entire enterprise, then extend beyond it to become an attractive force for talent, customers, publicity, and economic growth.
The theory is one can intentionally design a business to have a maximum ethical impact, and if done properly, this will drive the expansion of the business whilst maintaining stability and cohesive growth. I’d go as far as to say that if you ONLY focus on the ethical core, refining it and expanding it, every other thing will automatically happen.
Imagine a pie chart. All the departments are slices. The Ethical Core needs to be in the centre, so when it grows outwards, it influences and indeed transforms every department. This includes HR, finance, sales, supply line management, product development, IT, customer services, research and development, marketing, and every other department and activity.
My theory is that the ethical core must permeate all areas of the business. Internally, this will immediately impact employee wellbeing, staff retention, less sick days will be taken, employees will be happier, more productive, more motivated and less stressed. This is before the core has even reached beyond the internal workings of the business.
Once it does, it will facilitate recruitment, client engagement, new business, supply line management, advertising and marketing, accounting and fundraising, publicity, and open doors previously unseen. The business will be operating within a sphere of influence of its own creating. This facilitates every single thing the business does.
How then to achieve commercial growth through ethics in this way? In brief, it looks like this. The first thing is for the directors to agree on this course of action. The second thing is to agree what ‘Ethical’ is. This is vital, the aim is to create a consolidated understanding of purpose within the organisation. Therefore we establish the definition of Ethical as ‘Life Enhancing.’ Two words, applicable to every department and every situation. It now becomes easy to apply an ethical perspective to any situation with simple questioning. ‘How is this life enhancing? How can we make this more life enhancing?’
The next stage is to bring the heads of departments in. They are given the role of looking at their department activities, processes, systems, and culture, with the core determining questions at the forefront of their thinking. How can this be made more life enhancing? How do the department heads do this, in practice? By involving all the employees in their department in the same process. This engages the entire company in asking the same question. ‘How can this be made more life enhancing?’ The process of doing this within a company will immediately bring everyone onto the same page, creating a cohesive intention. The result of this will be the identification of dozens of changes, some small, some large, that will have a positive ethical, ie life enhancing, impact. The fact of these changes all being made from the same perspective will have the further advantage of causing the cohesion and alignment of systems and activities, removing frictions, even, indeed especially, those between departments and actual individuals. The aim and purpose of the business is now clear. Life enhancement. And once that has been fully understood and established, all other considerations will be subject to it. It’s the prioritisation of ethics, of life enhancement, even over financial consideration. Now this might concern some directors, but remember; The aim is to create an enterprise for whom success is a result of its life enhancing impact. The ethical intent, delivered fully and correctly will create a new kind of business, one that will commercially outcompete others for clients, for talent, for value, for every meaningful metric. The financial success of the company will be a direct result of the expanded ethics embedded within it, commercial success not compromised by the life enhancing core, but driven outwards and upwards by it. The ethical core is the engine. And the fuel that drives it is a common, and higher, purpose.