Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited
Change has been an underlying theme in almost every edition of Strategy & Leadership for the past few years. Indeed, if we were not living in such a volatile time, many of the issues we address would be moot – we could just go on doing as we have been, reexamining nothing. But that is not the case. Radical change is our daily companion, and it demands an almost continual review of every aspect of an organization's operation.
This time, we look at how all these changes are affecting society's definition of ethics and the growing expectations that business leaders must fulfill if they are to have continued success. Every day, it seems we read about a human rights or environmental protest somewhere in the world. And in the middle of the protest stands one or more companies. According to a recent report by Amnesty International, every company faces a new kind of risk based on how it deals with social issues, including human rights issues. These risks pose problems for a company's operations, its reputation, its retention of quality employees, and, ultimately, its shareholders.
In this issue of Strategy & Leadership, we bring together thought leaders who offer their perspectives on the topic and make recommendations for anticipating and successfully resolving ethical issues.
Peter Schwartz begins by recounting the experiences of several companies who thought they were doing the "right thing," but were blindsided by social change.
Ian Wilson expands on these ideas and presents the "new rules" for ethical business behavior.
Bob Rasberry describes the role of the ethics officer and explains how this office can help to ensure integrity-based management.
Jacques Manardo recounts the findings of a study that defines what makes an international corporation successful, including the ways in which governance issues are addressed.
Alex Theodhosi suggests that aggressive and manipulative business behaviors are basic to human nature and, therefore, will always be a factor in business strategy design and implementation.
And don't miss Jim Kartalia's short article on how to design a reputation management program.
Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, is quoted in The Book of Management Wisdom (Wiley, 2000) as saying, "I'm no loony do-gooder, traipsing the world hugging trees and staring into crystals. I'm a trader. I love buying and selling. In the past 17 years, I have established England's most successful international retailing company, with 1,000 shops in 45 countries. But I am concerned about quality in trade, not just quantity. As we meet the challenges of our constantly changing world, we could not find a better guide for forming and nurturing our essential communities." How does your company measure up against the "new rules?" What risks do changing ethical expectations pose for your organization? These are questions that every strategic business leader must address.