All Future-Fit Break-Even Goals can, and should, be interpreted as matters of business ethics that apply to any company. This goal, in contrast, focuses on the proactive identification and pre-emptive prevention of any specific issues which could – due to the unique nature of a company’s business – lead to ethical breaches.
The kinds of ethical breach that might occur will vary widely across companies, depending on their size, structure, sector, business model, geographical presence, and so on. A Future-Fit company is not one that is immune to ethical concerns and challenges. Rather, it is one that puts in place effective internal control mechanisms to reduce the likelihood of breaches, to encourage people (employees and third parties) to raise the alarm when one does occur, and to respond effectively to them.
Examples of potential issues include:
- Anti-competitive practices (e.g. unfair supplier treatment, price fixing);
- Dis-information (e.g. misrepresenting or failing to disclose information which could influence stakeholder decisions or wellbeing);
- Abuse of trust (e.g. inappropriate use of personal data); and
- Wilful ignorance (e.g. neglecting to investigate supply chains in which human rights abuses are suspected).
To be Future-Fit, a company must do three things:
- It must identify high-risk areas for ethical issues within the business;
- It must adopt a public commitment to ethical conduct; and
- It must establish internal controls to ensure it lives up to that commitment.