The discussion about ethics has exploded on the web, particularly in the context of facial recognition and Facebook’s use of personal information. In doing a complete revision of our website, we began to think about what we mean by ethics.
Didier Cossin, the Director of the IMD Global Board Center (Lausanne, CH) discusses how the ethics of an organization can support its longterm success. He uses many examples, including family companies like Tata Industries (India), Maersk (Denmark), and Berkshire Hathaway.
Didier focuses on deontological normative ethics – how moral standards are determined, codified, and used as guidelines in decision making. This is different from the consequential view that allows the modification of an ethical code based on possible outcomes. We subscribe to his theory.
A good example of the deontological approach was Alan Turing’s decision not to share a decoded Germain cypher indicating a pending action by a German Submarine Wolf Pack in the North Atlantic. He reasoned that the consequence of sharing the intelligence might help in the short term, but be more detrimental in the long term; he was right. Turing stuck to the ethical guidelines he and the British GCHQ had established and by doing so, helped shorten the war and save more lives.
Upon reflection, then, we have changed the phrase in the “Why Diogenes?” section on our website from “ ..classical values of ethics, integrity and accountability” to “ ..classical values of normative deontological ethics, integrity and accountability.” We believe that a strong set of ethics is good for our clients, our partners, and for the value of our company.