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Core concepts

Ethics and Values in Business works to foster sustainable success in business, work and life through five core human values, based on a five-dimensional model of the person.

The key to the philosophy of Ethics and Values in Businessis that valuing conduct as right or wrong, good or bad, is an inherent part of being human. Even if issues are complicated, as humans we are always guided by the idea that we can and should discriminate between different kinds of conduct. There is a spectrum of conduct that ranges from what is repugnant to what is highly admirable.

Our task as an individual is to assess actions and decide how we will value them. Our task as a group of people, or an organisation, is to reach agreement among ourselves about these things. Through dialogue and consideration of different points of view we can strive for wisdom about ethical issues and commit to working consistently on an ethical basis.

In societies today there is a great deal of pressure to push the ethical viewpoint to one side. However, when corporate crises occur, such as the collapse of a major corporation, we are immediately keen to assess whether bad conduct played a part. We are sharply reminded of the integral role of ethics in business, and aware too of its importance to our collective welfare.

At the same time, there is a huge range of "values" that compete for our allegiance. How do we make sense out of these competing values? The core human values model (or the 5D model)says we can think of ourselves as having five dimensions.

Core human values model

five-dimensions diagram

The same approach can be used to examine the behaviour of managers and organisations.

This model provides a coherent way of sifting through the vast array of values that vie for our loyalty, and keeps ethics to the fore. The five dimensions can be described as follows:

Why are the lines shown this way?

The lines are shown as they are for a reason. We start at the bottom of the figure. The two sloping lines represent cognition and the emotions. To align (loosely) with left brain/right brain theory, cognition is the line on the left and emotions are the line on the right.

The horizontal line that completes the triangle is the function of valuing. To this point, the figure is saying that cognition and emotions are incomplete; valuing is needed in order to discuss workers’ and managers’ actions adequately.

The three dimensions form a foundation (the triangle) because we believe that a focus on each of these dimensions will provide a sound basis for personal or organisational performance and conduct. When these three elements are in place, then an organisation can begin to experience the benefits of the last two dimensions, shown as the top two lines in the figure. Energy is generated when an organisation or a group of people is clear about its ethics and values, people relate to each other with care and respect, and it has established intelligent, effective systems and processes to achieve business success.

Further, as this energy fuels achievement, confidence and growth, the organisation becomes clearer about its identity and purpose, and it can even extend its vision and goals. The organisation can reach the fullness of its possibilities – success, and self-assurance as a worthwhile member of society.