Global Survey of Business Ethics: Proposal
At the 7th World Congress of the International Society of Business, Economics, and Ethics (ISBEE) in 2022 a group of participants met in person and virtually to discuss and launch a Global Survey of Business Ethics (GSBE). They already had two prior virtual meetings in May and June 2022, convinced that, after the publication of a worldwide survey in 1997 (Enderle 1997) and a global survey in 2012 (Rossouw & Stückelberger 2012), the time has come to consider a new GSBE and take stock of the present field of business and economic ethics.
To conduct a truly global survey as the one in 2012 is an ambitious and complex undertaking, which might not be achievable to the full extent. Nonetheless, it is worthwhile to report on business and economic ethics in a comprehensive and differentiated way as much as possible.
The proposed GSBE uses the definition of business and economic ethics (in short, business ethics) “in a comprehensive sense that includes issues at the individual, organizational, and systemic levels of decision-making in business and economic life” (Enderle 1997, 1476; Rossouw & Stückelberger 2012, 11). The terminology varies in different languages and is explained when appropriate.
The proposed GSBE consists of two parts. Part I presents a list of themes of business ethics, which briefly describe potential challenges and opportunities in the field around the world, as they are perceived by the initiators of this GSBE. The individual themes might or might not be addressed by particular country- or region-reports. But they delineate the global context, in which the reports on training, teaching and research of business ethics are situated.
Part II contains the country- and region-reports, which focus on training and/or teaching and/or research. It is up to the reporter to choose the area(s) of his or her reporting, given their limitations. The themes listed in Part I may help to structure the reports. But other, non-listed themes may be taken into account as well.
2. PART I: THEMES OF BUSINESS ETHICS – CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN THE FIELD OF BUSINESS ETHICS WORLDWIDE
A non-exhaustive list of themes of business ethics are presented in this section of the proposal.
2.1 BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Human rights as defined in the International Bill of Human Rights (including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ), the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights  and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights  and adopted by the United Nations Framework “Protect, Respect and Remedy”  and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights .
Their relevance for business (of all sizes) is highlighted by the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB 2020 and 2021). www.ihrb.org
The Top 10 Business and Human Rights Issues 2021 include:
- RESILIENCE FOR ALL: Redesigning Supply Chains for a Pandemic-Altered World
- TRACKING & TRACING: Preventing Misuse of COVID-Related Tech
- STRANDED AT SEA: Resolving a Humanitarian Crisis
- WAGE THEFT: Standing Up for Migrant Workers in the COVID Crisis
- THE OFFICE: Making the New Workplace Work for People
- FORCED LABOUR: Leveraging Against State Imposed Human Rights Abuse
- CLIMATE MIGRATION: Responding to the Reality of Displaced Communities
- RACE MATTERS: Addressing Discrimination at All Levels
- STANDARDS FRAGMENTATION: Fighting Against the Divide
- TRANSITION FINANCE: Maximizing the Social Benefits of Net-Zero
The Top 10 Business and Human Rights Issues 2022 relate to climate change and include:
- STATE LEADERSHIP: Placing people at the center of government strategies in confronting the climate crisis
- ACCOUNTABLE FINANCE: Scaling up efforts to hold financial actors to their human rights and environmental responsibilities
- DISSENTING VOICES: Ensuring developmental and environmental priorities do not silence land rights defenders and other critical voices
- CRITICAL COMMODITIES: Addressing human rights risks in mining to meet clean energy needs
- PURCHASING POWER: Using the leverage of renewable energy buyers to accelerate a just transition
- RESPONSIBLE EXITS: Constructing rights-based approaches to buildings and infrastructure mitigation and resilience
- GREEN BUILDING: Constructing rights-based approaches to mitigation and resilience for buildings and infrastructure
- AGRICULTURAL TRANSITIONS: Embedding equity and justice in global food production transformations
- TRANFORMING TRANSPORT: Mobilizing green transport to be inclusive and rights-respecting
- CIRCULAR ECONOMY: Generating positive social outcomes while reducing the impact of materials and waste
2.2 BUSINESS AND SUSTAINABILITY
Sustainable development means “to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs (WCED 1987).
Sustainability in its three-fold conception “recognizes and incorporates the social, economic and ecological objectives of multi-generations” (Prizzia 2007, 20; referring to the Agenda 21 of the UN Conference on the Environment and Development 1992 in Rio de Janeiro).
17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets promulgated in The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2015.
GOAL 1: No Poverty / GOAL 2: Zero Hunger / GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being / GOAL 4: Quality Education / GOAL 5: Gender Equality / GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation / GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy / GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth / GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure / GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality / GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities / GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production / GOAL 13: Climate Action / GOAL 14: Life Below Water / GOAL 15: Life on Land / GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions / GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal.
2.3 BUSINESS AND THE JUST ENERGY TRANSITION
The Just Energy Transition from black to green energy goes beyond environmental considerations, and include distributive and procedural justice dimensions for workers, communities and society (See Schulte, Klindt, Robinson, Stephens & Umney 2022):
- Distributive and procedural justice
- Job creation versus job destruction
- Community engagement
2.4 BUSINESS AND WEALTH CREATION
Wealth creation (see Enderle 2021, World Bank 2021): Comprehensive conception of wealth (of nations):
- Wealth includes natural, economic, human and social capital.
- Wealth is a combination of private and public wealth.
2.5 CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
Corporate governance (see Rossouw 2009):
- The ethics of governance (how values in companies exist and shape the regime) and the governance of ethics (how companies are required or recommended to manage their own ethical affairs with codes of ethics, rules of conduct, ethics auditing, etc.).
- External governance (by laws, professional standards, societal norms, in the market itself) and internal corporate governance (direction and control exerted by a board or executive managers over the performance of a company).
- Shareholder or stakeholder orientation in corporate governance (governance in the interest of whom?)
2.6 DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
Digital transformation: Robotization and automation of society and the economy and the use of artificial intelligence (see Kirchschlaeger 2021):
- 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution);
- Data-protection and privacy;
- Creation or destruction of paid jobs.
Corruption (see Windsor 2018): Dishonesty or deliberate dereliction of duty typically for personal gain by a government official or a private entity official, broadly including fraud, bribery, or deliberate misreporting.
- in developing and transition economies
- in advanced economies
- international collaboration to combat corruption
- Speaking up. Internally and externally of the company.
- Ethics at Work (see IBE 2021):
(a) How willing are employees to speak up when they are aware of misconduct?
(b) How satisfied with the outcome are people who speak up?
(c) How common is retaliation against those who speak up?
(d) What prevents employees from speaking up about the misconduct they are aware of?
2.9 CONFLICT AND TERRORISM
Business in countries of war: How can business ethics contribute to peace? (see https://eben-net.org/1765-2/):
- Responses and responsibilities during a sudden crisis
- Emotions and well-being
- Organisational ethical policies
- Contributing to peace
2.10 RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY
The Routledge International Handbook of Spirituality in Society and the Professions (see Zsolnai & Flanagan 2019)
- The realization of economic conceptions of religions in the country’s economy
- Spirituality in the workplace, good practices and difficulties
- Spiritually inspired business and social enterprises
- The participation of religious/spiritual movements in economic and business initiatives
Diversity in the Workplace (see Roy 2018):
- Diversity in organisations
- Diversity as the collective differences and similarities of different dimensions, e.g., related to demographic characteristics of employees, or related to diverse functional issues such as marketing, research, manufacturing, finances, and so on with an organisation
2.12 MICRO, SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES (MSME)
Inculcating ethics in small and medium-sized business enterprises: A South African leadership perspective (see Robinson & Jonker 2017)
- Special challenges and opportunities
- Ethics management and compliance
- Family MSME
2.13 LEADERSHIP AND ETHICS MANAGEMENT
Leadership (Windsor 2018a)
- Ethical leadership
- Unethical leadership
- Ethics management
2.14 OTHER THEMES
Other contemporary themes or business ethics may be investigated.
Enderle, G. 1997. A Worldwide Survey of Business Ethics in the 1990s. Journal of Business Ethics, 16(14), 1475-1483.
Enderle, G. 2021. Corporate Responsibility for Wealth Creation and Human Rights. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Institute of Business Ethics (IBE). 2021. Ethics at Work: 2021 international survey of employees. An international survey of approximatively 10,000 employees in 13 countries. London: Institute of Business Ethics.
Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB). 2020. Top 10 Business and Human Rights Issues 2021. December. London: www.ihrb.org.
Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB). 2021. Top 10 Business and Human Rights Issues 2022. December. London: www.ihrb.org.
Kirchschlaeger, P. 2021. Digital Transformation and Ethics. Ethical Considerations on the Robotization and Automation of Society and the Economy and the Use of Artificial Intelligence. Baden-Baden, Germany: Nomos.
Prizzia, R. 2007. Sustainable development in an international perspective. In K. V. Thai, D. Rahm, & J. D. Coggburn (eds.). Handbook of Globalization and the Environment. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 19-42.
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Roy, M. 2008. Diversity in the workplace. In The Sage Encyclopedia of Business Ethics and Society, edited by R. W Kolb. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 941-945.
Schulte, L., Klindt, M., Robinson, B., Stephens, S., & Umney, C. 2022. Wind energy and the Just Transition. The British Academy, 1-29. https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/programmes/just-transitions/sectors-and-industries-globally/wind-energy-political-socio-economic-pinch-points-europe-south-africa
Windsor, D. 2018. Corruption. In The Sage Encyclopedia of Business Ethics and Society, edited by R. W. Kolb. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 768-772.
Windsor, D. 2018a. Leadership. In The Sage Encyclopedia of Business Ethics and Society, edited by R. W. Kolb. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2053-2065.
World Bank. 2021. The Changing Wealth of Nations 2021. Managing Assets for the Future. Washington, DC: World Bank.
World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). 1987. Our Common Future. New York: Oxford University Press.
Zsolnai, L., & Flanagan, B. (eds). 2019. The Routledge International Handbook of Spirituality in Society and the Professions. London: Routledge.