Eight web sites providing helpful resources on business and organizational ethics

Business for Social Responsibility                                               

Founded in 1992, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) provides socially responsible business solutions to many of the world’s leading corporations. Headquartered in San Francisco and with offices in Europe and China, BSR is a nonprofit business association that serves its member companies and other Global 1000 enterprises. Through advisory services, conventions and research, BSR works with corporations and concerned stakeholders of all types to create a more just and sustainable global economy.  The BSR web site is resource rich.

Caux Round Table

The Caux Round Table believes that the world business community should play an important role in improving economic and social conditions.  Through an extensive and collaborative process in 1994, business leaders developed the CRT Principles for Business to embody the aspiration of principled business leadership.  The CRT Principles for Business are a worldwide vision for ethical and responsible corporate behavior and serve as a foundation for action for business leaders worldwide.  As a statement of aspirations, The CRT Principles aim to express a world standard against which business behavior can be measured.  The Caux Round Table has sought to begin a process that identifies shared values, reconciles differing values, and thereby develops a shared perspective on business behavior acceptable to and honored by all.

Ethics & Compliance Officers Association is the web site of the Massachusetts-based Ethics and Compliance Officers Association, founded in 1992.  The ECOA, with about a thousand members, is the leading organization of corporate ethics and compliance officers, with a significant and growing presence among Fortune 100 companies.  Based on the ECOA’s own reports at their web site, their ethics officers have many more lawyers among them than people trained in ethics.  The ECOA was formed initially as a way of putting compliance programs in place in companies not only to prevent wrongdoing but because companies with such programs in place had their fines reduced by as much as 95%!  One of the EOA’s current major projects is to develop a comprehensive Business Conduct Management Standard by which compliance can be measured.  This “damage control ethics” is now being augmented by more holistic approaches as the ECOA expands its contacts and partnerships beyond the legal departments to include individuals and organizations trained in ethics.  ECOA membership is open to individuals and to organizations for a substantial annual fee.  The ECOA sponsors various conferences and courses for ethics officers.  The web site makes some interesting information available to non-member visitors but it is on the whole rather meager.

Ethics Resource Center is the web site of the Washington DC based Ethics Resource Center.  The institutional roots of ERC are in American Viewpoint, founded in 1922 to help immigrants to the US get oriented to American culture and values.  In 1977 the mission was refocused under the Ethics Resource Center rubric. The vision is to foster a more ethical world.  ERC publishes a monthly electronic newsletter called Ethics Today.  ERC sponsors research on individual ethics (especially character development), organizational ethics (especially for business), and global ethics.  This is a great organization with a web site that is a gold mine of helpful information on business ethics.

Ethix Magazine

Bimonthly online magazine Ethix  was co-founded and co-directed by Boeing technology executive Al Erisman and business ethicist David Gill from 1998 to 2003.  Since 2003 Erisman has been the Executive Editor. A distinctive characteristic of Ethixhas been the conviction that the technology driver is recasting all of business and its ethics, and that all three factors must be considered together: business, technology, and ethics. Probably the most valuable feature of this web resource is the archive of interviews of business leaders

Institute of Business Ethics is the web site of the non-profit Institute of Business Ethics, established in 1986 in London.  Part of the value of this site is that it provides a perspective from outside the USA.  Most of the concerns are common to businesses in most parts of the world, of course.  The IBE web site provides some simple, very concrete outlines and strategies for companies wishing to formulate and implement ethics policies, procedures, and codes.  The IBE sponsors various seminars and discussion groups and publishes material on various business ethics themes.   The IBE view of ethics tends to focus on dilemma and crisis resolution rather than on broader issues of mission, values, and corporate culture, but this is a good organization with something to teach us.

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University is one of the preeminent centers for research and dialogue on ethical issues in critical areas of American life. The center works with faculty, staff, students, community leaders, and the public to address ethical issues more effectively in teaching, research, and action. The center’s focus areas are business, health care and biotechnology, character education, government, global leadership, technology, and emerging issues in ethics. Articles, cases, briefings, and dialogue in all fields of applied ethics are available on this site.

Society of Business Ethics

Founded in 1980, the Society for Business Ethics (SBE) is a non-affiliated international association of scholars and others interested in business ethics. Membership in SBE is open to scholars and professional from all disciplines who specialize in business ethics, and to anyone else seeking the benefits of membership. The Society conducts an annual meeting for the presentation and discussion of new research; issues a newsletter with information of interest to members; supports the publication of the Ruffin Series in Business Ethics; and produces the scholarly journal Business Ethics Quarterly.  Probably the most valuable feature at the SBE web site is the “Business Ethics Resources Page” which provides links to dozens of business ethics centers, publications, and programs.