Authors: Freeman, R. Edward; York, Jeffrey G.; Stewart, Lisa
Source: Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics
Number of pages: 25
Today's challenge to business leadership is ensuring profitability while doing the right thing using environmentally sustainable methods. It is possible for business leaders to make money, engage in ethical leadership, and participate in preserving the environment for future generations. It is possible to fit these ideas together, but it is not easy.
Environmentalists and business leaders have traditionally seen themselves at odds. But the concepts of business, ethics, and the environment can be aligned to create innovation rather than legislation and litigation. There are no magic solutions; however, asking the right questions is a step in the right direction.
Instead of showing the myriad ways that business, ethics, and environmentalism conflict and lead to impossible choices, it is more useful to ask, "How is it possible to put these ideas together?" In today's world, all three issues require serious consideration. Businesses must continue to create value for their financiers and other stakeholders. Business leaders can no longer afford the ethical missteps that led to the epidemic of scandals in the last decade. To leave a livable world for future generations, business leaders also must pay attention to environmental matters. Yet most of the methods, concepts, ideas, theories, and techniques used in business do not put business, ethics, and the environment together. Neither ethics nor regard for natural systems is typically central to the way we think about business.