Ethical behaviour translates into better business

Ethical Reading’s core values are

  • Respect
  • Compassion
  • Collaboration
  • Responsibility
  • Social purpose

How do these translate into better business? Here is some evidence:


An article on incivility at work and how it affects performance from the New York Times. It reports on a study which found that respondents who felt respected by their leader were

  • 56% healthier,
  • 89% more happy at work,
  • 92% more focused at work and
  • 1.5 times more energised.


With telecommuting, flexible schedules and our increasingly wired (and wireless) world, the boundaries in and outside the workplace have become increasingly blurred – and employee demands are growing. The 2016 Cone Communications Employee Engagement Study reveals an increased expectation for companies to provide not only basic benefits but also ones that allow employees to bring their passions for social and environmental issues to the workplace.

Key Findings Include:

  • 64% of employees feel their work and personal lives are becoming increasingly blended
  • 93% want to work for a company that cares about them as an individual
  • 51% won’t work for a company that doesn’t have strong social and environmental commitments
  • 74% say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact at work.


It seems obvious to us that people and organisations that collaborate do better – but we cannot find any study that gives us evidence – can our readers help?


Mark Price, ex-MD of grocery chain Waitrose said “responsibility has to be held inside the company. They have to want their company to be ethical. It all starts with the governance structure which allows the workforce to be the best they can be”

If the workforce are engaged,

  • Productivity will be 20% better
  • Income 20% better
  • Shrinkage will be 28% lower
  • Defects 40% less
  • Earnings per share are 143% higher in businesses with a highly engaged work-force

Social Purpose

Almost half the workforce (42%) now want to work for an organisation that has a positive impact on the world, according to research carried out by consultancy Global Tolerance. The survey of more than 2,000 people in the UK found 44% thought meaningful work that helped others was more important than a high salary and 36% would work harder if their company benefited society.

The change, it would appear, is being driven by the so-called millennials. The Guardianreports that of those born between 1981 and 1996,

  • 62% want to work for a company that makes a positive impact,
  • half prefer purposeful work to a high salary
  • 53% would work harder if they were making a difference to others.

This is backed up by a survey by PWC, which showed that millennials are 5.3x more likely to stay with their current employer (and non-millennials 2.3x more likely) “when they have a strong connection to their employer’s purpose”.

Institute of Business Ethics Report:  Does Business Ethics Pay

The UK’s Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) has added substantially to the evidence that virtue pays. In its report ‘Does Business Ethics Pay?’, the IBE finds that in a sample of FTSE 350 firms ‘ethical’ companies outperformed those which made no such claims on three out of four financial measures

  • market value added [MVA],
  • economic value added [EVA]
  • price/earnings ratio.

Between 1997 and 2001, it concludes, “there is strong indicative evidence that large UK companies with codes of business ethics/conduct produced an above-average performance when measured against a similar group without codes”

We are always on the lookout for evidence – please share if you have some that you know about!



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