We Shouldn’t Always Need a “Business Case” to Do the Right Thing

Alison Taylor in Harvard Business Review: “I’ve been a consultant for almost 20 years, advising companies on complex challenges in ethics, risk, and responsibility. Each year several clients raise the same issue: the need to get buy-in from a skeptical senior executive in order to demonstrate a concrete benefit that will follow a proposed investment in an ethical business initiative or function. The executive needs a business case. And so I get asked questions like “What evidence can I provide that doing the right thing will make or save a company money?” and “How can I persuade the organization that embracing integrity is a win-win?”…

After all, there is also a business case for tax avoidance, deregulation, and even higher death rates.The problem is that our obsession with making the business case for ethics makes us sound apologetic and hollow.In this context, isn’t the business case a bit reductive?. On the other hand, senior executives often respond enthusiastically to the potential of business integrity to provide an inspirational narrative….(More)”.