Ethics– Is It a tool for Business Sustainability?

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Having been part of two major change management programs in the past 3 years I’ve had the privilege of experiencing how important it is to have a strong organisational culture in place prior to rolling out a change program.

How does one go about setting in place a culture that’s productive, efficient and most importantly empathetic?

There are some key areas of organisational development that affect the sustainability of a business. One such area is that of leadership.

Leadership is the make it-or break it factor for a business in ensuring its sustainability.

It’s the leadership that brings about trust, establishes credibility and generates empathy. Through all of this emerges a common cause, or the vision of the business, which then becomes the reason-why employees rally around and work in the desired directions. The process through which the business works becomes the organisational culture.

So how can organisation leaders develop a strong culture that would aid them in generating support from employees and drive the business to achieve its goals?


Ethics are the keystone of an organisation’s culture and it’s the starting point in developing the type of desired culture. Caution: this does not happen overnight and it cannot be done simply by calling in an external consultant. It needs internal people to be identified and empowered. But that’s for another post.

Ethics is the foundation of a value system.  It is what we, as individuals, as communities, as societies, have in place since history. It is  the cornerstone of the value system a family follows, society follows and what, ultimately, an organisation uses to put in place a ‘work culture’.

It is important that the leadership of the organisation is aligned with the ethics and more importantly, the ethics reflect the eco-system within which the business operates.

Ethics can, either, be used as an interim or as a permanent tool to ensure business sustainability.

So can Ethics be a tool for organisational growth or is it the foundation of a work culture which results in both commercial and social development?

Developing a work culture based on identified and agreed ethics would clearly provide for a beneficial scenario. A scenario, that in the long term, has far significant and positives benefits than immediate short term financial gains.

In the huge industries of Halal & Islamic Finance this particular area of organisational development has not really seen any concentration or alignment with an organisations’ mission and vision. As a result of which articulated ethics are not married into the business plan.

Given the pace of growth of both these industries, it is a matter of time before the two industries have to figure out a way to collaborate. At that point in time, the common starting point for both industries would be the ethics on which they are built. Ideally, they would have a common ethical foundation.

Does this all sound very utopian?

It’s not that it can’t be achieved. What are required are determination, clear focus, and a clear intent of benefiting the business’s eco-system in a positive manner in order to be profitable.

If today’s organisational leaders step outside the realms of how business has been done or work processes followed (for the past 100 years) and look back into our rich Islamic commercial history and adhere to the respective hadiths that are there, they would see the benefits clearly detailed for all. Sometimes one has to study history in order to progress to the future.

Utilising these, to create a foundation and therefore a “value-based culture” would enable the organisation to be leagues ahead of its competition. But, patience, perseverance and faith is required in order to ensure the success of such a culture.