My colleague Ron Nielsen, who is Director, Sustainability and Strategic Partnerships at Alcan, asked me something earlier this week that really stuck with me.
He wondered whether our consulting agreements contain an ethics clause that gives us the option of discontinuing work for a client if unethical practices are uncovered during the course of working with them. These could include negative environmental impact on protected areas that was avoidable, human rights violations such as use of child labour, breaches of customer privacy, disregard for fundamental health and safety of employees, selling products that pose a potential risk to consumers, and so on. Ironically, we haven’t included an ethics clause but will now create something for use in future engagements.
Does your corporation include an ethics clause in its contracts with suppliers and other business partners? How many of the growing number of consultants in this area are prepared to do this? I’d say that a company’s willingness to take this step speaks volumes about the degree to which its commitment to corporate responsibility is authentic.