enterprise taking the high road

Taking the high road: The need for ethics in the new world of work

by Jen McGlinn

Ethics has become a key business strategy for many successful companies.

Do you remember the movie Wall Street?

Released in 1987, the movie introduced the world to Gordon Gekko, the ruthless Wall Street banker willing to do anything in the pursuit of profits. And while Gekko eventually (spoiler alert) found himself in prison as result of his unethical behavior, his tactics forever colored the perception about what it takes to succeed in business: namely, that an unethical approach can give you a leg up on the competition.

Today, we know better. Organizations from all sectors of the economy have embraced ethics as a key business strategy, and have seen major benefits as a result.

A better way

As we’ve seen, ethics and integrity, valuable in their own right, are also good for business. They enhance your brand, boost loyalty to your company, and can help resolve legal and compliance issues before they actually become problems.

Moreover, this is where the customer’s mind is at today. From food to retail to electronics to automobiles, customers want to feel good about the companies from which they purchase their goods and services. Think about the companies that have enjoyed the most success over the past 20 years —Google, for example. Ethics is a critical part of Google’s brand — in fact, the company’s code of conduct includes the informal (and infamous) company motto “Don’t be evil.” And this isn’t just to look good to the public. There are real business benefits to ethics — according to Ethisphere¹, which releases an annual list of the world’s most ethical companies, these organizations have historically outperformed others financially.

Making a commitment to ethics

I’m honored to say that our parent organization, Ricoh Company, Ltd., was recently named by Ethisphere as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies, joining companies like Google, Ford and Intel as 2015 honorees. Ricoh has made a commitment to ethics a key part of our culture throughout our entire history. And while our approach to ethics isn’t the only way to go about it, we have learned some lessons over the past 80 years that may prove valuable for your organization.

¹ "World’s Most Ethical Companies Honorees." Ethisphere.2016.