A4.4 Implications of Ethical Values on an Organisation


Ethics are related to morals; they are about what is right and wrong. In environmental terms, it is about what is right and what is wrong environmentally. However, ethics related to more than just the environment. An ethical organisation will be one that does not damage the environment or cause pollution. However, it will also not exploit its workforce, ensure good working conditions and will pay fair wages. It will not exploit suppliers, use harmful or dangerous raw materials and will not produce harmful or dangerous products.

The ethical constraint can be turned into an opportunity. Many studies have shown that organisations with an ethical profile have higher staff retention rates. Employees stay because they want to, not because they feel they have to. Organisations founded on an ethical basis, or selling ethical products, have a loyal customer base. Often these customers are willing to pay a little more for the level of internal satisfaction they gain from knowing they are doing the right thing.

The growth of ethical influences on organisations is demonstrated by the link below, which is to a website dedicated to ethical consumerism. It even has a section listing all companies that are currently being boycotted for various ethical reasons, such as animal testing or funding the arms trade.


Ethical values and constraints is one area highly relevant to Sustainable Development. The concept of sustainable development came out of the United Nations Conference on Human Environment held in Stockholm, Sweden in 1972 and the report of the Brundtland Commission (1982) called Our Common Future.

Sustainable Development has been defined in many ways on many occasions, but this quote sums it up rather well:

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”.

Source: non-attributed quote


This quote underpins the spirit of sustainable development. It is a balance, allowing economic growth without compromising environmental or social well-being.

Just as commerce strives for an economic profit, we should all strive for an ecological profit (maintaining the long-term viability of ecosystems) and a social profit (fulfilling people’s cultural needs).

We all have a duty to reduce the use of non-renewable raw materials, use natural materials in such a way they can regenerate and minimise waste produced.