Had an interesting and enjoyable conversation with Professor Norman Ball recently for the final instalment of a series we're doing in conjunction with the University of Waterloo. Although the talk veered down many paths, the official discussion was around ethics and governance, and one point Professor Ball made that really jumped out at me was a short and simple one:
"Green is the new ethics."
It's hard to disagree. With messages from the likes of David Suzuki finally penetrating the moral conciousness of a large number of North Americans, "saving the planet" and "going green" are convenient mantras for the corporate world to hang its battered ethical hat on. Especially in the hardware market, whose products eat up huge amounts of energy, a green message allows companies to at least look like they care about something other than the bottom line.
Whether there is an earnest interest in the environmental movement amongst this group is cause for skepticism. But at least they are saying, and in many cases doing, some positive things around the environment. Let's just hope that while they're talking about planting trees and saving fish, corporate strategists are not forgetting about more traditional ethical matters around finances and good governance.