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The importance of ethics

September 18, 2015

I find the accusation that Volkswagen has been deliberately falsifying emission levels on its cars quite remarkable (see New York Times article here). US authorities have demanded the recall of half a million vehicles and presumably Volkswagen faces not only substantial costs to ensure compliance, but also heavy fines. If proven, it will not be surprising if class-action law suits follow.

The story is that Volkswagen installed software that would specifically deceive emission test inspections and yield false readings. The thing I find amazing is that a company like Volkswagen would believe that it could keep this secret – though if the allegations are correct, it seems to have succeeded for at least 6 years.

This is just one more example of the transparency of business conduct in the world today. The idea that our policies and practices can be kept secret is something that must be challenged. From a commercial perspective, if Volkswagen truly did commit this offence, it represents a failure of ‘commercial challenge’ and confirms the importance of having a strong business practices function or role within business.

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