Is ethics in business the new selling point? In other words: Would you choose to do business with one company over another because they were more ethical?

That was the question I asked myself after reading about Ian McKay, CEO of Noble Awards. He and his wife determined to use a part of their Salmat-Philippines-Girlbusiness’s profits to help struggling villages in the Phillipines. It’s an amazing, heart-wrenching story, probably best told by Ian himself.

There are two ways of looking at ethics.

First, is ethics as a luxury: ‘First food then ethics’, said the noble philosopher Montaigne. When you get right down to it you’ve got to survive first. So the only way Noble can afford to be ethical is to be successful first.

Second, is to see ethics as the very mechanism that allows for survival. Groups only work when there is trust. Trust only happens when there is acceptance and a certain amount of predictability in another’s actions.

allied-mills-awardSo which is it for Ian McKay and Noble Awards? Are they ethical because they are successful or are they successful because they are ethical?

The other factor to consider, about ethics in business, is the influence people have within the business. People do not influence the business they work in uniformly. Certain people, by the very nature of their positions, determine the course and direction of the business far more than others.   Ian McKay, for instance, is able to orient Noble Awards because it’s his company. In another company someone lower down on the chain, with the same determination to make a difference, may not have the influence to accomplish anything. For these people have to play another game, one of drive and opportunity.

So is it ironic that Noble Awards has chosen the business of Corporate Awards, Trophies and Plaques? That is: Is it ironic that a companyOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA devoting itself to charitable works should produce items to be given away? Or was this a design of Ian McKay’s: A tangible representation of Noble Awards ethical stance?

 

In the end it comes down to us. It is we, the consumers, who must decide whether this company  lives or dies. We vote with every dollar we spend.

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