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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Ethics and ESG Resource Center

Resource Center for Ethics and Environmental, Social and Governance Issues

What do ESG and Ethics Have in Common?

Ethics captures the conditions in which human beings thrive and that provides the most direct link to the modern business taxonomy, ESG, shorthand for environmental, social and governance standards in corporations. These standards hone in on conditions that support human well-being and orient companies to the ways they impact and are impacted by society. The introduction of these metrics signals a renewed value on ethics, reflected in the marketplace by consumers and employees. Indeed, the courage of people serving currently in board and management roles has led them “to set goals to be realized over the long term, to serve interests beyond just those of financial investors, and to actively design the larger business system they operate within to promote ethical behavior, considering a broader set of stakeholders." (Skeet, 2016)

 

Building a More Humane, Just and Sustainable World

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Environment

Environmental standards have been evolving over the last several decades through a number of global convenings and as expressed in goals from global entities, such as the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Companies have moved from activities such as building environmentally friendly workplaces that are LEED certified, to setting goals for achieving zero carbon emissions. As we prepare for 2022, reporting standards, environmentally friendly investing options, and responsibly sourced supply chains are all part of the sustainability scorecards companies have begun to keep and report. 

Social

Social standards, of the three measurement sets, have received significant media attention in the four years since the #Metoo movement began and since the murder of George Floyd. Harassment free workplaces, matters of social justice, and the need to account for political polarity while also taking a corporate position on social matters is all relatively new terrain for many of today’s corporate executives.

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Governance

Governance standards are articulated in current laws, but the compliance with those regulations and laws is uneven. Thus, more corporations are taking a more holistic approach, describing good governance in terms that embrace both ethical and legal aims, considering the role that culture plays in creating healthy workplace environments and the role governance plays in culture formation and leadership. 

Awareness of local laws and norms is heightened in today’s marketplace, as more companies make choices about where to do their work based on alignment with corporate values. In this very critical way, ethics is shaping business decisions at all levels.

We know in research from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics that three conditions in corporations lead to the use of ethical decision making: 

Continue reading about the three conditions that lead to the use of ethical decision making.

How the Ethics Center can Help
Companies are under extreme pressure from stockholders, boards, investors, and the government to account for how they perform in regard to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors. The Markkula Center has been thinking and writing about ESG for years, given the ethical thinking frame. In addition to the resources here, we work with large and small companies, nonprofits and government entities to help with ESG and other ethical issues.

Explore ESG Resources by Category

Navigate here to View Environment Resources Environment Navigate here to View Environment Resources EnvironmentThe Letter E for Environment
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Environment

Environmental reporting standards, environmentally friendly investing options, achieving zero carbon emissions and responsibly sourced supply chains are all part of the sustainability scorecards companies need.

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Navigate here to View Social Resources Social Navigate here to View Social Resources SocialThe Letter S for Social
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Social

Harassment free workplaces, matters of social justice, and the need to account for political polarity while also taking a corporate position on social matters is all relatively new terrain for many of today’s corporate executives.

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Navigate here to View Governance Resources Governance Navigate here to View Governance Resources GovernanceThe Letter G for Governance
Navigate here to View Governance Resources Governance
Governance

Corporations describe good governance in terms that embrace both ethical and legal aims, considering the role that culture plays in creating healthy workplace environments and the role governance plays in culture formation and leadership. 

Navigate here to View Governance Resources GovernanceView Governance Resources

Explore ESG Topics by Focus Area

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Business and Leadership

ESG standards hone in on conditions that support human well-being and orient companies to the ways they impact and are impacted by society.

Navigate here to Government Navigate here to Government
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Government

Ethical awareness of the importance of ESG considerations which promote the common good for society grows among governments, their agencies, and public officials.

Navigate here to Immigration Navigate here to ImmigrationESG Minisite Immigration Ethics
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Immigration

Immigration ethics intersects with ESG criteria for evaluating companies most directly on the Social lens. Companies can be assessed on how well and how fairly they treat immigrants and noncitizens, including their employees, consumers, and members of their local communities.

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Internet Ethics

The internet is a connective tissue that stretches across much of the globe—though unevenly, with both negative and positive impacts on environmental, societal, and governance issues globally.

Navigate here to Journalism, and Media Navigate here to Journalism, and MediaJournalism and Media Ethics and ESG
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Journalism, and Media

Like their adoption elsewhere in the non-media corporate world, ESG principles can be used to identify new measures of success for news media corporations and help drive new investments to catalyze ESG in journalistic culture and newsroom management.

Navigate here to Social Sector Navigate here to Social SectorESG Minisite Social Sector
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Social Sector

From nonprofits of all fields considering their impact on the environment and their employees to the importance of good governance in all aspects of organizations, ESG can and must be considered when establishing any organization in the social sector.

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Technology

Decisions involving diversity and inclusion, sustainability, human rights, legal compliance, business decisions with social impact, labor decisions, and so on are all connected to ethics in general, and in our increasingly technological society, tech ethics.

ESG & Ethics By Resource Type