opinions expressed by entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
We all have an ethical responsibility. It means doing what is morally right for society and the planet, and sometimes these ethical principles are wrapped around regulations to enable their enforcement. We must not forget this during our digital evolution.
If Meta’s string of scandals is any indication, tech companies don’t often think about their impact on society. The company was aware that Instagram could harm women’s self-esteem, but continued to develop a version of the application for young children. Social media companies in general have engaged in unhealthy practices as the industry misuses collected data for targeted marketing, bespoke products, and even defining public policies.
However, public opinion and regulations can force the prioritization of ethical responsibility. Businesses must comply with regulations, as we have seen with economic sanctions against Russia for its aggression in Ukraine and China for its treatment of the Uyghurs. As the chief technology officer of a blockchain consulting firm, I believe all companies should consider the ethical implications of their technology stack.
Related: How to Navigate Privacy Regulations When Deploying Enterprise Blockchain Solutions
Ethical responsibility in business
Ethical responsibility in business begins with protecting privacy and personally identifiable information (PII). Customers need solution providers that comply with global data protection laws such as the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). When developing software, vendors are required to secure PII data using encryption to allow for easy reporting and deletion at the customer’s request.
There are also ethical issues in financial management. There have been some egregious past mispractices that have spawned a multitude of regulations such as: B. Sarbanes-Oxley, know-your-customer and standards of the payment card industry. Compliance with these regulations is mandatory for every company, regardless of industry or technology.
And sustainability is the ethical and social responsibility of every company. Businesses must review their carbon emissions, energy and water use, and other sustainable practices to ensure a net benefit to their communities. Our planet’s finite resources are being depleted by mismanagement, and it is our duty to preserve them for future generations.
Related Topics: What is Sustainable Entrepreneurship and why is it important?
Ethical considerations for your digital transformation
Business ethics and responsibility go beyond generating sales and profits, and ethical financial management involves more than just complying with legal regulations. It is about contributing to the well-being of citizens, environmental sustainability and other aspects of society.
I worked for an organization that had an in-house tool called Business Opportunity Assessment to evaluate potential technology initiatives, but it may need to be adapted for the new company. Beyond simply considering companies’ revenue goals, it should consider ethical issues such as sustainability, use of child labor, workforce diversity, sourcing of conflict minerals, support for climate initiatives, and other global concerns. There are three ways to ensure that the company uses ethical principles.
See also: How to Build a Regenerative Business — and Save the Planet
1. Conduct audits and compliance
Although an organization should not comply for the sake of compliance, legal compliance is the best way to ensure a moral basis in the organization. Tech giants like Apple and Google are implementing “privacy” into their products while enabling powerful third-party analytics. Current testing approaches only focus on functionality, integration, performance and user acceptance and need to be extended to include ethical compliance.
Testing ESG compliance, business process transparency and data protection requires new approaches, such as B. Checking the energy consumption of the network. Bitcoin’s network consumes an unsustainable amount of energy, leading to its being banned in China. In response, Ethereum is upgrading to proof-of-stake mining to reduce its carbon footprint.
Exposure to personal data can also pose one of the biggest threats. As a result, customers are increasingly demanding that technology companies are ISO 27001, SOC 1 and SOC 2 certified. HIPAA or GDPR violations are expensive, and organizations need to conduct security audits and test for exposure to malware, ransomware, and other forms of nefarious cyberattacks.
2. Recognize employees as an essential part of success
I cannot stress enough the importance of a diverse workforce. Colleagues from diverse backgrounds can help break down implicit biases in technology to allow for equitable use by all people. This effort is critical as racial and gender bias continues to permeate every use of AI. For example, OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 image generator is most likely to show a woman as the “flight attendant,” although women are disproportionately represented in the data.
Your organization should monitor systems for potential internal corporate threats, but employees should also be fully trained on diversity, security, privacy and regulatory practices. At Chainyard, we require all employees to complete training such as security, privacy, and HIPAA.
Related: Decoding the ethical concerns surrounding technology
3. Involve suppliers and partners
An organization’s ESG compliance is tied to its downstream suppliers and business partners. One of the biggest challenges is getting these suppliers to adopt best practices and report on their progress. Make sure you are in constant communication to build trust with them. Failure to comply with ESG can result in fines and harm a company’s future.
When building or introducing new technology, it’s easy to focus on glory. It could facilitate work processes, generate profits and support the company’s bottom line. But there’s more to business than just making money.
Businesses should address the ethical Business Considerations. Everything from our carbon footprint to how we treat others contributes to our net societal impact. We should all strive to do the right thing in everything we do.