Keeping a business going is what business continuity is all about, but at what price? Ethics have more than one role to play as part of business continuity plan best practice. Not only are they important in order to prevent continuity from being jeopardised, but they are also a crucial part of any response to cure any continuity problem. Ethics can be a complex subject, all the more so because they go beyond what is prescribed by the law. Acting ethically is more than simply doing what the law requires; it is also “doing the right thing”, an approach that is an integral part of an emerging discipline of “integrity management”.
Examples of where ethics surpass basic legal requirements in avoiding threats to continuity include the use of sustainable resources and local versus remote or offshore labour. Large and relatively well-known companies have already been in the spotlight because of questions on both counts; Nike for instance issued statements to defend itself against allegations that it was exploiting workers in third-world countries. Similarly, as an example when an organisation is weathering a storm, either literally or figuratively, the law might allow for redundancies or pay cuts, but appropriate ethics might not.
Yet like any business continuity plan best practice, ethics need more than just a manual or a rulebook if they are to be consistently and effectively applied. Not only is a clear model necessary from the top downwards, but organisations also should be aware of the alarming results of surveys about adhering (or not) to ethics. Just as a sample, the challenge starts as early as in school where pupils admit to cheating in exams or lying about job applications, and continues with MBA graduates willing to defraud in order to boost profits. Consequently, organisations need to make ethics part of “on-boarding” for new employees, if business continuity is to remain intact as the workforce is renewed.