EDITOR’S LETTER : It’s about ethics

It just seemed so wrong. How could company justify paying for, and planting, spy in the midst of protest group? The phrase ‘mountains out of molehills’ leapt to mind. I mean, the protestors weren’t international terrorists – they were bunch of students standing up for their beliefs in what is right. thing I admire in people. thing I have done myself. But that’s another story.
Then I remembered that I’m business reporter. So I stopped jumping to conclusions, making gut reactions, spouting forth with my own opinion, and took step back. I made conscious effort to ask the questions, albeit internally, that I would were I covering the story.
That is, Solid Energy is mandated to operate along commercial lines and return dividend to the government. The protestors were interfering with this process so the company’s management had little option but to attempt to minimise the impact. Okay, so the somersault is complete and Solid Energy has acted correctly.
That conclusion lasted about, ooooh, five minutes before the nagging doubts crept back. So here goes, I admit it – I have problem with what Solid Energy did. While I’m sharing, I also have problem with what Mercury Energy did. I understand their reasons – to protect their business interests – but I still have problem with their actions.
I’m not claiming ownership of this discord. Our cover story explores the complexities and clashes between profits and ethics. There are certain actions which make, um, sensible business sense but which have strong sting in their tail.
We also take look at the bottom line benefits of going green. It’s all the rage at the moment to be sustainable, energy efficient and generally very right on, but the commercial reality is that this has to work for the bottom line. Otherwise the accountants (not to mention the shareholders) are liable to revolt. We take look at the dollars and cents (or should that be sense?) of going green. Which brings me to my last point – I have learnt new word. (Actually I learnt three while subbing Colin James’ column). Greenwash. It’s what you call businesses which like to appear green but haven’t done the leg work. I also have problem with them. It’s not right to take credit for something you haven’t done. Which leads me to wider thoughts about accountability and personal responsibility. But I’m out of space… this month anyway.

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