The Business Book

(Joyce) #1


See also: Leading well 68–69 ■ Effective leadership 78–79 ■ Organizational culture 104–09 ■ Avoid groupthink 114 ■ Profit
before perks 124–25 ■ Morality in business 222 ■ The appeal of ethics 268

Stephen Covey

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, in
1932, Dr. Stephen Covey was
an internationally respected
leadership authority, teacher,
organizational consultant, and
author. He grew up on a farm
in Utah and was bound for an
athletic career, but in his late
teens he was struck by a
degenerative disease that led
him to require crutches while
walking for several years. He
studied business administration
at the University of Utah, then
spent two years as a Mormon
missionary in Britain before
earning an MBA at Harvard
and then a PhD at Brigham
Young University. In 1983 he
opened the Covey Leadership
Center in Provo, Utah, which
later became the Franklin
Covey Company. Covey died
in 2012, at 79.

Key works

1989 The 7 Habits of Highly
Effective People
1991 Principle-Centered

the basis for ethical conduct today.
Aquinas also asserted the first
principles for the marketplace,
pointing out that the price set
for a product is a moral issue.

A more moral world
The notion of what is acceptable
in the business world today has
changed radically from earlier
centuries. Slave labor was
the norm for cotton and sugar
plantations in the US until
the mid-19th century. At the
same time, workers (including
children) were exploited during
the industrial revolution in Europe,
being forced to work long hours,
at low wages, in unhealthy
conditions. A pioneer in showing
that business could make a profit
while pursuing an ethical path
was Welsh social reformer Robert
Owen, whose New Lanark Mill,
near Glasgow, Scotland, became
world famous for its moral rather
than commercial values.
Today, companies have to
consider every aspect of their
operation—from sourcing
ingredients to marketing policies—
in order to be judged ethical by their
consumers. Employment policies are

very important. The Institute for
Ethical Leadership, based in
Canada, defines an ethical business
as “a community of people working
together in an environment of
mutual respect, where they grow
personally, feel fulfilled, contribute to
a common good, and share in the
personal, emotional, and financial
rewards of a job well done.” There is
a shared understanding that success
depends on a myriad of relationships
—both internal and external—not all
of which are under the organization’s
control, but which it can influence
through the ethical way it operates.
An ethical business that employs
people from diverse backgrounds
starts by agreeing and documenting
its own principles or standards,
which are often termed the
company’s “charter” or “code of
conduct.” These standards become
the reference point for decision
making in the working environment,
particularly when employees are
faced with difficult decisions.
However, it takes more than a
written pledge to ensure an ethical
business. Organizations have to
foster a culture in which it is far
easier for people “to do the right
thing and much harder to do the ❯❯


A company must be proactive across its entire operation in order to make it
easier to do the right thing and harder to do the wrong thing.

The company’s

The company
recruits new
people for
their values
as well as
their skills.

The company
orients new
people to its

The company
publishes and
its code of

The company
and rewards
ethical behavior.
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