the failure of the Co-operative Group in the UK. The bank is announcing a restructuring. The restructured company’s articles of association will include a commitment to moral behavior. The justification, in the end, is that honesty is the best policy. But the FT reporter (here) is skeptical about it. He writes:
"The slogan that good business is profitable business is superficial – an attempt to make moral dilemmas dissolve in a warm bath of goodwill. When the right thing to do is also in your own self interest, you do not need advice from philosophers and theologians. Ethics are about what to do when good behaviour and profitable business are not necessarily the same thing."
And then he goes to make a difference between honesty and honest behavior:
"the difference between the honest man and the man for whom honesty is the best policy. When you deal with the man for whom honesty is the best policy, you never know when it might be the occasion on which honesty is no longer the best policy. Bankers, not bishops, deliver lectures extolling their own personal integrity; the man who repeatedly reminds us how honest he is rarely acquires, or deserves, our trust. The integrity we value is a personal or organisational characteristic, not a business strategy."
So, he concludes, "if honesty is the best policy then the best policy is to be honest from conviction."