Doing the right thing costs. If it didn’t we wouldn’t be calling it such. We’d just be saying “doing the thing”. We add the distinction because we are looking for a justification. We are presenting an action as problematic. We are identifying that it ought to be done but we are also preparing reasons why we may not do it.
Every time I come across a business that wants to be a market leader I know what they are thinking about: A big, fat check. The massive pay-off that comes with being at the head of the pack, the reputational value of being first and being perceived as somehow being better. Everyone in the boardroom starts seeing dollar signs the moment they hear the words “Market Leader”.
There is a fundamental disconnect between business and ethics. When Volkswagen and Microsoft blatantly lie and cheat and nobody within the organization, at any level, has the courage to say that it’s wrong it leads to a break between the values they profess to uphold publicly at the customer-facing interface and what they are really prepared to do when no one’s looking.