wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
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Laura NashLaura Nash


American expert in business ethics (pictured right).


Key book

Good Intentions Aside (1990)


Organizations need a “Covenantal Business Ethic” based upon long-term relationships with stakeholders (particularly customers and employees) that promote ethical values without sacrificing profits.

Such values (like respect for people, honesty and fairness) come from the:

  • individual's conscience.
  • organization's corporate culture

Business ethics (applying personal morals to business) increases profits through:

  • motivating employees.
  • improving corporate image.
  • attracting talented recruits.

People must be ethical, because codes of conduct can be ignored.


There are various ethical responses to conflicts between personal conscience and company policy (managers’ biggest moral dilemma):


1. Conscience before corporation

Immoral action (like bribery) is never justified even for the sake of the organization’s survival.


2. Sacrifice before self

‘You first’ is the right philosophy, not ‘me first’.


3. Truthful and informative advertising

(which doesn’t entice people to injure themselves).


4. Stakeholders

  • accepting unwelcome information from them.
  • being sensitive to their views.


5. Whistle-blowing

Reporting wrongdoing to people inside or outside the organization.


6. Social responsibilities

Taking action on social issues like poverty and the environment.


To assess how ethical a decision is, a manager must ask various questions:


1. What is my intuition and gut instinct i.e. does the decision stink?


2. Could I disclose it to my child, a respected mentor or the public?


3. Is it right, honest and consistent with my values?


4. Is it legal and should the law be obeyed anyway?


5. Does it promote trust?


6. How does it treat others: am I hurting anyone?


7. Does it add to the good reputation of myself and the organization?


8. Is it fair to the organization’s stakeholders, and have I listened to their opinions?


9. Have I considered all the facts?


10. Would it still look good, if it was made in the future, or repeated 20 times over?


11. Am I blinded by arrogance or saved by humility?


Key quotes on business ethics

Integrity is a condition that demands that you walk as you talk.

Ego corrodes empathy.


Key quote on human resource management

He who is exploited tends to exploit back.

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