The Role of Ethics in Times of Crisis: An Opportunity for Business Leaders to Carry Out Their Core Values and Principles

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Post By: Maryanne Eva and Marc Y. Tasse

Over the past year, the pandemic has put pressure on business leaders, the business community, and the global economy. Many leaders and board members have been forced to make difficult decisions and judgment calls in the utmost challenging circumstances.

How are business leaders dealing with such unusual circumstances? What tools and guiding principles are used to shape the decision-making processes? After all, this is not business as usual, the socio-economic environment has been shattered, and established benchmarks and familiar landmarks have vanished or now appear irrelevant or outdated in the face of this volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world.

A timely and significant approach required to support the path to recovery is the need to acknowledge and integrate a broader and more adapted perspective on risk and business management. The pandemic has provided a radical but insightful learning opportunity to business leaders and board members when it comes to making judgment calls in complex, volatile and uncertain situations. One that has forced them to evaluate their stance, core values, and original mission. The socio-economic crisis has exposed and forced leaders to think about what they should do, not just about what they could do. And with rising demands for transparency, ethics, and an increased focus on a green recovery, business leaders have been asked to consider their impacts beyond the bottom line.

In fact, leaders have been encouraged to consider and integrate environmental, social, and governance issues (ESG) in the decision-making process and display how they will contribute to a resilient recovery. The terms business with purpose, stakeholder capitalism, or value-capitalism are getting traction, and “as attention begins to turn towards recovery, there is widespread demand for business to address complex and rapidly evolving societal, political, and ethical issues. Simply following the letter of the law is no longer seen as sufficient. Instead, companies are expected to demonstrate how their values and principles are integrated into the decisions they make.”[1]

As the road to the recovery slowly unfolds, the role of ethics seems like an evident choice for building a more crisis-resistant world. Business ethics takes shape by making though judgment calls and taking decisions in challenging and uncertain circumstances, and it seems like a perfect opportunity for business leaders to carry out their core values and principles in actions.

About the Authors:  Ms. Eva is an Associate Faculty and a Business Consultant with specific expertise in sustainability management, business ethics, and corporate strategy & communication.

Ms. Eva has led the creation and development of an innovative consulting services program in business ethics and risk management for the largest employers’ association in the construction industry (ACQ) in Québec. She has collaborated with public and private organizations to help manage their reputational and operational risks, achieve independent certification, and align with national and international best practices. Ms. Eva is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Business Administration at École des Ponts Business School in Paris with a research interest in sustainability, the green economy, resilience & innovation.

Marc Y. Tassé, MBA, CPA, CA
CFF, FCPA (USA), CFS (USA), CICA (USA),  CACM (USA)

As an investigative and forensic accountant, and also internationally renowned subject matter expert in the fields of anti-bribery / anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, and anti-fraud, Mr. Tassé examines financial crime from different angles and explores what motivates people to break the law, how wrongdoers cover their tracks, and what can be done to put a stop to the looting.

An award-winning lecturer in the MBA program at the Telfer School of Management and in the Common Law Section at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, his current research focuses on the actual and potential effects of allegations of corruption and improper financial reporting on publicly traded companies’ market capitalization.

 

Works Cited: [1] Rodin, David (2021), The ethics study 2021, Principia, https://www.principia-advisory.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/The-Ethics-Study-2021.pdf