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How young people drive ethical business practices

All organisations should be aware of the changing needs of younger generations, and this includes having an ethics strategy and ethical policies that take into account diversity and sustainability.

It’s becoming increasingly important in terms of talent retention as well as consumer choices – younger generations in particular place a lot more importance on the values and ethics of an organisation than they do on perks. They simply won’t stay loyal to an organisation that they don’t consider to be a good cultural fit.

Actions are a lot more important than words, particularly when it comes to ethics, and organisations should be very clear and transparent about their ethical values and ensure that they’re adopted from the top down and the bottom up. You have to be really clear about who you are, what you stand for and what’s important to you as an organisation.

Leadership needs to drive these practices but they are also being led from the bottom up by both consumers and talent who increasingly avoid organisations that operate harmful practices, and make conscious decisions to seek out those whose ethical practices are in line with their own beliefs.

On a general level, you need to build a very strong ethics policy with codes of conduct that drive a transparent culture and have an impact on how you do business. For example, pulling out of countries that use slave labour will impact on profits but it’s essential if you’re going to be transparent. Making a conscious decision not to sell toiletries in China so you don’t test on animals will cut out a massive market, but you can’t pick and choose where to apply your values.

Make it very clear who you are and what you do so that people can feel part of it and identify whether they are aligned with your purpose. Being clear and open about what you stand for will help you to create a competitive advantage, it will help to define your real brand and it will drive your culture.