As part of a long-term research project, I have identified five competitive strategies common to organizations that are successful and ethical on a sustained basis. None of these strategies considered alone guarantees ethical success. Here is the first strategy.
1. Provide a sound product or service.
While this seems obvious, the customer is often the forgotten player when it comes to ethics. Talking about customers seems dull compared to talking about global warming or genetically designed food. However, unless you provide good value to your customers, ethics is not part of your strategy. You may have a great environmental record, but if you stay in business by ripping off your customers, you are not doing business ethically. GM may be an otherwise ethical company, but when it sells cars with a known a safety problem, its ethics has spoken. In ethics, it all starts with a good value proposition for customers.