Is there an App for Business Ethics? 
Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 10:44AM
Maria Hernandez
Surprisingly yes.
Climate change. Access to healthcare for all.  Pay equity.  Protection of natural resources. Safe drinking water. Access to education   It's a long list of issues that will soon no longer rest in the hands of our federal government.  As long standing regulations that protected lives, allowed equal access to education, and protected the environment continue to be eliminated or diminished, these issues are now in the hands of people you and I did not elect.  Welcome in the new stewards of America's future:  The C-suite, corporate board members and industry thought leaders now control our destiny.  These men (and some women) are now in the position to make decisions that ignore the regulations they had followed for the past 8 years or simply abandon them.  
This past week the Environmental Protection Agency was directed to shelve the gas mileage efficiency requirement of cars produced in the US.  It's just one of many policy changes that will be discussed in corporate board rooms in the months ahead.  Picture anywhere from 7 to 15 powerful and experienced business leaders discussing this reality:  Should we stay the course and follow these EPA requirements or not?  It's that simple.  It's that complex.  Corporate governance is fraught with compelling conflicts---if we keep shareholder value as our highest priority, holding to more rigorous standards may hurt profitability.  If we abandon the goals set forth by past legislators eager to reduce climate change, our brand may suffer--especially among key segments of our customer base.  The discussion will be flooded with data to review on costs of production, market share, consumer activism  and yes, the politics of going against the political climate in Washington, DC.  
We are entering an era when corporate social responsibility, business ethics and conscious capitalism may be all we have as a nation to keep the American Dream a true reality.  The Fortune 500 CEOs and their roughly 6,000 board of directors have our future in their hands.  Santa Clara University's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics publishes a wealth of papers on the complex factors that weigh on business ethics.  And yes, they've published a free app for ethics available on Google Play and the App Store.  Unfortunately only 1,000 downloads have taken place among Android users.  It asks the user key questions about the utility of a decision, the rights of those impacted, the justice of actions to be taken, the furtherance of the common good, and yes the virtue of an action.  These are not the normal conversations of boards but they should be now more than ever.  America's future is riding on the leaders who can still "do the right thing".  There is a business case to be made that the US may indeed be under a populist leader but activist shareholders and consumers can and do yield their power.  Combine that with speed of social media and consumers have yet another way to cast their vote. Uber's recent debacle on crossing the strike leveraged by taxi's at JFK Airport during the ban on Muslim immigrants is one useful lesson that others may need to heed.  Ethics in governance takes time to develop. Consumers activism is swift.  

 

Article originally appeared on OLE' --One Latina Empowered (http://www.mariaghernandez.com/).
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