Major brands such as Facebook, Volkswagen, Starbucks, and most recently Papa John’s have endured controversies that called into question their ethical practices. Those companies are only the latest to be exposed for problems that consumers and those knowledgeable about corporate culture often link with a lack of ethical standards at the highest executive level. This can cause an erosion in the public’s trust, which in turn eats away at a company’s bottom line. Research by Mintel revealed 56 percent of U.S. consumers stop buying from companies they believe are unethical, and it also showed that more than 60 percent of consumers think ethical issues are becoming more important.
There’s an opportunity here, says an international ethics expert, for companies to get ahead of the curve by incorporating better ethics before damage control forces it upon them. “Controversies and scandals in corporations have the power to shift them from moral autopilot to an energized manual control, where they are acutely aware of their actions and their impact,” says Dr. Christopher Gilbert, author of There’s No Right Way To Do the Wrong Thing and senior consultant/speaker at NobleEdge Consulting (www.nobleedgeconsulting.com). “But it doesn’t and shouldn’t require misfortune to switch things up.
“As powerful public figures and corporate executives are switched to the truths of equality and justice, the costs of their unethical decision-making become crystal clear to everyone. The dominoes are still falling daily. But never doubt that a rising cry for equity and opportunity can change hearts and grow into a global mind shift.” Gilbert offers five steps for business leaders to help their companies avoid ethical problems and elevate ethical development.
“What you think about ethics becomes your ethics,” Gilbert says. “If you believe ethics are grey, you will find yourself in greyer and greyer situations where the choices get blurrier. Where you see, know and act with the assurance that ethics are there to tell us right from wrong, you will be put into more and more situations where the answer is obvious – despite the complexity of the circumstances.”
About Christopher Gilbert, Ph.D.
Dr. Christopher Gilbert, the author of There’s No Right Way To Do the Wrong Thing, is an international ethics consultant and senior consultant/speaker at NobleEdge Consulting (www.nobleedgeconsulting.com). Having spent much of his career focused on the study of human moral development, Dr. Gilbert has over 30 years of experience in organizational development as a strategic facilitator and leadership and operations consultant. He has served an international clientele, including Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies in the U.S., Canada, Asia and Africa. Dr. Gilbert completed work for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on a sustainable food-security program across four nations of sub-Saharan Africa, and he has been a professor of business ethics who taught at universities on four continents. He earned his doctorate in Organization, Management and Leadership Ethics at Capella University.