Posted by: lorihowell | October 14, 2013

Can We Really Trust the Ethics of Any Company?

Not  many employees go to work everyday simply to contribute to the common good. Most people have to work because they need to earn a living.

The  same rules apply to companies. Though our culture reaps enormous benefits from altruistic companies who care deeply for citizens, businesses are typically tasked with profitability. Leaders and employees must answer to shareholders or company owners, often putting profit over other important values.

I’m not insinuating that’s okay, just trying to keep my expectations in check.

Forbes regularly publishes a list of the world’s most ethical companies according to the Ethisphere Institute, a New York City think tank. Even more interesting than who appears on the list today, is the fact that McDonald’s was one of two restaurants on the list in 2009.

Wasn’t McDonald’s one of the first companies to practice “cradle-to-grave” marketing? Don’t they still engage in underhanded marketing to kids while proliferating type 2 diabetes?

McDonald’s is an easy target. There are likely political reasons for their appearance on a list of ethical companies. I will remain skeptical.

Similarly, I believe there are political reasons for many mission statements—especially those that espouse community and employees over profit—because, ultimately, companies are most often loyal to the bottom line.

Do you know what your company mission statement is? If your company has a mission statement, do you know how it was drafted?

McD

Photo at right courtesy of RBerteig, Creative Commons.

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