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Corporate governance

This is a 'hot' topic and still evolving as a distinct discipline with appropriate laws and regulations. All the time the media go on about the lack of ethical behaviour in business today. But what are ethics? Ethics:

- an idea or set of beliefs that guides the actions of a person or group. But the beliefs may be unacceptable or in fact unethical.

- the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.

But we humans have differing views as to what is good and what is bad! Nietzsche has wonderful comments on good and bad in Jenseits Von Gut und Bose (Beyond good and evil).

Certainly examples of businesses' unethical behaviour abound. A wide-ranging and costly to settle example is the UK personal protection insurance (PPI) pushed by all the banks - protection was the one thing that was lacking.

It seems that some marketing efforts are aimed at deceiving - was not the UK PPI scandal one big deceit? It is certainly not the place of this book to say what is right or wrong, but strategies, never mind the objectives which they are meant to achieve, will be facilitated or hindered by behaviour.

Should corporate governance law, rules or codes have prevented the PPI scandal? Many will say yes, but the problem with laws is that unless they are clearly and simply drafted, they often invite circumnavigation. We all have our views on how to deal with unethical behaviour. Could the answer be to have honorable executives with an open and decent company creed?

Honour

- having or showing honesty and good moral character;

- fair and proper.

Decent

- polite, moral, and honest;

- showing kindness: seeming to care about the feelings or problems of other people.

These are rather old-fashioned words, but if executives can sign up to the attributes implied in the definitions, they ought to be ethical persons. It might be too much to ask many politicians to sign up to such a test!

 
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