Fairness or, to use a somewhat more formal term, behaving ethically has been an essential principle of doing business since the very start of human commerce.
It’s the basic building block of trust. It’s about integrity: doing what we say we’ll do. It’s about respect: paying people what they are due, on the terms agreed. It’s about openness and transparency: showing those we work with that we’ve got nothing to hide.
Sadly, there is currently a lack of public trust in business, politics, and quite a lot of other institutions. As business leaders, it is our responsibility to do what we can to repair that trust. My work in developing the Wates Corporate Governance Principles is a small part of that, and I’m pleased to see a groundswell of efforts by business to articulate their purpose and be more transparent.
There is no easy solution, but for starters, I think it’s essential we show respect for others and try to see things from their point of view. This is something we should be doing routinely. Every day, we can ask ourselves, am I treating others as I wish to be treated myself?