More news today of UK banks having a negative social impact through the way that some financial products were sold to SMEs – http://www.managementtoday.co.uk/bulletin/mtdailybulletin/article/1138890/banks-found-guilty-mis-selling-smes-too/
Peter Drucker back in 1974 in his book Management emphasised the need for management to be deeply concerned about social impacts – both what organisations do to society and what they they do for society should be primary concerns of management. It would appear that these two concerns have been somewhat overlooked recently in some sectors and this really does point to significant management failures.
Drucker recommends that managers need to ask “is what we do right, in the best interest of the customer and society?” He goes on to say that if “doing the right thing” is going to put you at a competitive disadvantage, managers should seek out regulation to level the playing field. Primum non nocere – above all, not knowingly to do harm, needs to be the professional manager’s oath.
Have we reached a tipping point on management ethics in 2012 because it looks as though we may have with the welter of scandals that point fingers at failures amongst managers? If we have, what does it mean for managers generally?
The first practical step is to closely examine all operations for their social impacts. Are customers interests really being best served and are we really making a difference in society?
Secondly, if there is a values statement – is it being lived genuinely or is it simply a piece of window dressing?
Thirdly, ask yourself if there is real effort going into ensuring that no one is knowingly doing harm?
2012 may be a year that is a watershed in the ethics of management – we could certainly do with fewer scandals!