Good corp, bad corp - the rapid rise of business ethics
Jim Armitage is the City editor of The Independent and London Evening Standard group of newspapers. He has been a reporter and editor for more than 20 years and was recently shortlisted for the Press Gazette financial journalist of the year and The Society of Editors financial journalist of the year awards. He contributes news, investigative reports and comment to the Independent titles plus a daily column in the Evening Standard.
Tuesday 17 June 2014
Outlook The venue was apt for an evening’s debate on business ethics entitled “Good corp, bad corp”. In the floors above were the UK corporate headquarters for both Google and Vitol, a secretive global commodities trading house which employs possibly more billionaires than any other company in London. “Bad corp, bad corp” could not have been a more fitting phrase.
My fellow panellists were far better suited than me to discuss such things – two were august business ethics academics, the third the emollient “director of corporate responsibility” at the defence giant BAe.
They discussed at great length how an ethical culture had to come from the top, how ethics had, according to some panellists, grown rapidly in importance in business. And, indeed, how the most ethical companies are the most profitable.
But as we lurch from one corporate scandal to the next, surely it’s clear that, while big companies are creating more and more glossy brochures on corporate responsibility, the temptation to cut corners skews behaviour as much as it ever did. From alleged corruption in China by GSK and Rio Tinto to BP’s rig and refinery disasters, to the price fixing, sanctions busting, mis-selling and foolish lending of bonus-fuelled bankers, it seems all that changes is the scale of the wrongdoing.
What was most telling was how both academics admitted the lowly status the subject of ethics held within the MBA courses teaching the next generation of big business leaders. One confessed his pupils were rarely interested in the subject and that it barely merited a mention on the syllabus; the other told of how the great Lord Kalms – founder of Dixons – had bequeathed a large sum to the London Business School for a chair of business ethics at London Business School. Where is that position now? Sadly, quietly dropped.
- 1 Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who ran away after argument with her parents
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 Gay teenager 'forced to have sex with his own mother' to 'cure' his homosexuality, campaigners in India say
- 4 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
- 5 Fifa corruption: Qatar says investigations are racist, anti-Arab and show 'ugly face' of countries who lost 2022 World Cup bid
Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who ran away after argument with her parents
California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
Sepp Blatter resigns: FBI are investigating outgoing Fifa president, claims report
Alton Towers crash: Four guests seriously injured as Smiler ride carriages collide
Charles Kennedy dead: A guy once asked the Lib Dem leader who his favourite Muppet was and his letter response was wonderful
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...
£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...
£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...
£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...