‘Thinking Ethically and sustainably' is about assessing the consequences of ideas that bring value and the effect of entrepreneurial action on the target community, the market, society and the environment. It triggers us to reflect on how sustainable our long-term social, cultural and economic goals are, and the course of action chosen. But most of all it guides us to act responsibly.
These skills are what you can recognise and acknowledge through this activity:
- I can describe in my own words the importance of integrity and ethical values
- I can recognise examples of environmentally friendly behaviour by companies that creates value for society as a whole
- I can tell the difference between the impact of a value-creating activity on the target community and the broader impact on society.
Ethics are a system of moral principles. Ethics support in making decisions and how to live your life. For example ethics can guide people to tell the truth, show compassion, loyalty or keeping promises. Or to help somebody who needs support. Ethics also help to prevent people from stealing, fraud or even worse rape and murder.
Good questions to ask yourself in any situation to define if the situation is following your ethics is described by Cortland:
- ’The Golden Rule Test: Would I want people to do this to me?
- The Truth Test: Does this action represent the whole truth and nothing butthe truth?
- The What-If-Everybody-Did-This Test: Would I want everyone to do this (lie, cheat, steal, litter the school, etc.)? Would I want to live in that kind of world?
- The Parents Test: How would my parents feel if they found out I did this? What advice would they give me if I asked them if I should do it?
- The Religion Test: If I have religious beliefs, how do they apply to this action? What would a respected member of my religion advise? Are there any religious texts that I could draw on for guidance?
- The Conscience Test: Does this go against my conscience? Will I feel guilty afterwards?
- The Consequences Test: Might this action have bad consequences, such as damage to relationships or loss of self-respect, now or in the future? Might I come to regret doing this?
- The Front Page Test: How would I feel if my actions were reported on the front page of my hometown paper?’
Being sustainable means that you meet the needs of what you need now, but without putting a struggle to future generations to meet their needs.
Unesco writes: ‘There are four dimensions to sustainable development – society, environment, culture and economy – which are intertwined, not separate. Sustainability is a paradigm for thinking about the future in which environmental, societal and economic considerations are balanced in the pursuit of an improved quality of life. For example, a prosperous society relies on a healthy environment to provide food and resources, safe drinking water and clean air for its citizens.’
Ethical and sustainable thinking
Thinking ethically and sustainable means that you need to assess the consequences and impact of ideas, opportunities and actions. Your attitudes, behaviours, values and mindset are very important to make ethical decisions and act sustainably. Typically, an ethically thinking person does not just have profit but also the people and planet in mind.
Impact means the consequences, influence or effect of a situation on something or someone. It is the change that occurs as a result of that situation. The word impact is used all the time on, for example, websites, in annual reports and vacancy texts. You have impactful organisations, but also training courses with impact, impactful trips and courses with which you can increase your personal impact. “Impact” always stands for something good and positive. But it can also be negative. Perhaps the best conclusion is to say ‘impact is something that would not be there without you’.
Impact on society
Sustainability of your impact. It is very important to go for positive systemic change and not just for short-term impact. By doing good research into your own impact, you will find out whether you also make a difference in the long term, in your society, community, organisation or else.
When following the micro-learning activities based on the above skills you can earn your Ethical and sustainable thinking badge.