Has 21st Century Competition led to the Abolishment of Business Ethics?

Has 21st Century Competition led to the Abolishment of Business Ethics?

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”- George Orwell

On September 18th, 2015, United States Environmental protection agency issued a notice of violation of Clean Air Act against Volkswagen for tweaking its diesel engine in order to bypass the emission test. 11 million Cars, worldwide, between model year 2009 and 2015 were identified to have faulty systems. This proves how contemplating an unethical decision with its apparent short-term benefits is eventually a recipe for disaster.

For a business entity, ethics can be categorised as its responsibilities towards (i) its customers, (ii) its employees, (iii) the government and (iv) the ecological balance of our planet. We need ethics as they are vital for the proper functioning of the economic, political and social network which will eventually lead to the overall development of the human race.

So, how and why does unethical behaviour creeps into a system and make highly intellectual business leaders lose track of their ethical responsibilities? The answer lies in the fact that any deviation from ethical practices is mostly the result of the current competitive corporate culture or pressure from the higher managerial food chain, which can emerge when a company is unable to live up to its financial expectations. To overcome these bottlenecks, leaders eventually end up bending the rules and this is when ethics and policies collide.

Let us take an example of child labour. If a firm hires children as its major workforce, it can drive down its prices. Now to remain competitive, the rival firm has to relook into its cost structure and come up with an optimized price point. Should the firm also look to hire children in its workforce? Is it ethical? Will this help in cutting costs? The instinctive answers to these questions may be yes but in the long run, it will not serve the purpose of growth. History is full of references to organisations which have linked good ethical practices with their performance and have eventually outperformed their competitors financially.

Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices has listed Tata Steel and Wipro as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the year 2017 and 2018. Points are awarded to an organization based on; ethics and compliance program (35%), culture of ethics (20%), corporate citizenship and responsibility (20%), governance (15%) and leadership, innovation and reputation (10%). Prior to 2017, the Indian Steel giant, Tata Steel had also bagged this award in years 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. Over decades, ethics has been a major driver for Tata Group. One of the core ethic business principles that the company follows is to fully support the development and operation of competitive open markets. It may be pointed out that this policy hampers the organization’s revenue, but In the long run, these policies promote a strong public image based on trust and relationship.

The challenge for those in business is to identify ways to do what is ethically correct while maximizing a shareholder’s wealth. Before taking any decision, the leadership of an organization must introspect what impact their decision will have on the organization and society as a whole in both the short and long run. The importance of ethics has been reinforced into business organisations and business individuals time and again.

As Henry Ford once said, “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business”. Ethics in businesses is present; the difficult question is how to make it more prevalent.


Authors: Saurav Dhar & Rishi Raj

PGPM, Class of 2018, Great Lakes, Gurgaon

Chairman Emeritus Reconnect 12 – Success Secrets

My dear young friends,
There are no underdeveloped countries in the world – only “under-managed” ones; according to Peter Drucker. India is still a developing country and it means that we are managing our country- our resources, our Industry, our organizations, our institutions inadequately. We are ill managing our societal responsibilities also. A nation is the summation of efforts of its people. Wherever we are working, we are a part of this nation. If we succeed, nation will succeed. Question is how to succeed? Here are some “Mantras” for success:

Mantra # 1 Never Stop Learning

“Learning is a process, not an event”. College education is all about “learning how to learn”. We have to go beyond the knowledge & information and graduate to wisdom. Once somebody asked Swami Chinmayananda “I have gone through Bhagavad Gita several times but nothing has happened” Swamiji replied “You have gone through Bhagavad Gita, but has Bhagavad Gita gone through you?”

Mantra # 2 Self-Application

Recall any dialogue of Amitabh Bachchan from any of his films. When he delivers a dialogue even at this age of 70, he not only applies himself, he plunges into it, he bets his entire existence and he exhausts himself completely. I remember, once he said “I have wept so many times on the death of my mother on screen, that when my real mother will expire, I am not sure whether any more tears will be left out. Such intense application !! And that is why he is actor of the millennium. So, success demands intense self-application.

Mantra # 3 No job is small

Never think you are doing a smaller job compared to others. No job is small. I asked a driver once who was thinking he was doing a small job “How many temples of “Arjuna” you have in your locality?” He said none. Then I asked him “how many temples of Krishna ?” He said plenty. Why? Arjuna was the greatest warrior of his time and Krishna was just his “chariot driver”, I asked. “No job is small or big, the way in which you do, makes it small or big”, was the obvious conclusion.

Mantra # 4 Goal Setting

Goal setting is extremely important for “admired success”. Ravana kidnapped Sita successfully and Jatayu failed miserably to protect her. Yet failure became nobler than success. Have a clear vision and goals of your life. Think BIG, Think AHEAD & Think FAST. Small aim is a crime, says Dr. Abdul Kalam. Live on ever-extending “fresh” goals. Once Rahul Bajaj rejected a candidate after interviewing him saying “You don’t seem to have 5 years of experience as claimed, but one year of experience repeated 5 times!

Mantra # 5 Passion

Passion is an “index” of life that determines the extent to which you are alive! It is “passion” that causes people to burn their mid-night oil, stay up late in nights and yet get up early. There is a big difference between people who just work and people who work passionately. And this difference is the difference between “success and failure”. Passion is the fire within to prove. Let us remember, there are no passionate things, there are only passionate people. If you think great players arrived India from 71 countries on 3rd Oct’2010 for Commonwealth Games, you may be true but truer is the fact that >6,000 bundles of passion rolled into Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium that day.

Mantra # 6 Focus

Passion without focus may not take us very high. “Apple is a 30 billion $ company, focusing on less than 30 products.

Mantra # 7Attitude

“Half of glass full rather than half of glass empty” may take you to sky heights. Attitude decides the Altitude. Progress is equal to the difference between “mind and mindset”, says Narayana Murthy.

Finer Insights of Success

The man who invented Match Box was very happy as he got striking success. Everyone wants striking success. But what is success? Let me share with you some finer insights. Please remember, Failure is not the opposite of success; it is an ingredient of success. The seeds of success flourish best in the well-turned soil of failure. Thomas Edison, the great American inventor who has 1093 US patents in his name, said “The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. After failing to invent a bulb 999 times, he said I learnt how a bulb cannot be made 999 ways. That became the soil for his 1000th  attempt leading to success.

Reuben Gonzales, a great player, in the final game of Lawn Tennis for the world title at match point, played a super shot. The referee & the linesman confirmed that the shot was good and he was declared the winner. After a pause, while shaking hands with his opponent, he hesitated and said that the shot was faulty. He insisted for a repeat, lost the serve and lost the match! Everyone was stunned!

Officially confirmed world title in his pocket, why did he do this? Asked some. “It was the only thing to do in order to save my integrity”, was his answer. This world cup in my drawing room would have pinched me whole life that I won it through a faulty shot. It is better to deserve an honor and not have it; than to have it and not deserve it. Success or Failure with “Integrity & Dignity” is superior to “Success at any cost”

A few years ago, a race was organized for “physically challenged” children in our own country at Hyderabad. Race started, after running for a while, one of the children fell down hurting herself badly. She was bleeding. Looking at her, all the other children stopped, reversed and took her in their arms and walked together to the finishing line, of course getting a standing ovation of the entire crowd. Success or Failure “together with humanity” is superior to “Individual success at any cost”.

Success is always sweet but it has to be qualified and “true” success in life which is sweeter.

Satyamev Jayate !!!

Best wishes and Regards,

Dr. B.S.K.Naidu

M.Tech., Ph.D., CBI Scholar, D.Engg.(Calif), FNAE
Hon.D.WRE (ranked amongst 30-most eminent scientists in the world)
Chairman Emeritus, Great Lakes, Gurgaon, NCR, New Delhi, INDIA
Former Director General (NPTI & CPRI / REL), Ex-Director (REC)/ Executive Director (IREDA)

No job is small or big, the way in which you do, makes it small or big (c)