Shared Ethical Values: Global Consensus?

Are we Approaching a Consensus About Global Ethics? 

Rushworth Kidder in Trust: A Primer on Current Thinking says that “the work of the Institute for Global Ethics suggests that there are indeed core global values that transcend individual cultures.”

As we struggle day-to-day with what ethics means in business, groups of concerned leaders around the world are studying common ethical values that could clarify ethical behavior and unite us in a common global code of ethics.

Global Values Transcend Boundaries

The Institute for Global Ethics conducted a survey to discover whether or not there are universally shared global values:

“The 272 survey respondents–representing 40 countries and more than 50 faith communities–identified a core of values centering strongly on truth, compassion, and responsibility. This core appears to be largely unaffected by the respondents’ gender, nationality, native language, or religious affiliation.”

Global Values, Moral Boundaries: A Pilot Survey  (download requires registering) The Institute for Global Ethics,

A Global Understanding of  Business Ethics

There are two resources readily available that present ethical values in a global context and provide guidance for ethical corporate behavior.  The Caux Roundtable Principles for Responsible Business and Principles for Responsible Globalization provide benchmarks for ethical corporate behavior and are available free online. Responsible businesses are reviewing them and discussing ways to abide by the principles.

 “The CRT Principles for Business are a worldwide vision for ethical and responsible corporate behavior and serve as a foundation for action for business leaders worldwide. As a statement of aspirations, the CRT Principles aim to express a world standard against which business behavior can be measured.” Caux Round Table Principles for Business at

The CRT Principles of Globalization include new principles for Governments, in addition to the Principles for Business. Just as the Principles for Business, these Principles of Government derive from two ethical ideals: “Kyosei” and “Human Dignity.” The Japanese concept of “Kyosei” looks to living and working together for the common good, while the moral vision of “Human Dignity” refers to the sacredness or value of each person as an end, not simply as a means to the fulfillment of others’ purposes or even of majority demands.”   Principles for Responsible Globalization at

Linda Fisher Thornton is CEO/Owner of Leading in Context LLC, a consulting firm helping business leaders lead responsibly in a complex world and serves as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Leadership for the University of
Richmond School of Continuing Studies. Her Leading in Context® Store sells training modules, discussion guides
and graphics supporting ethical business leadership. For more information about Linda and her work, visit or contact her via email at 

About Linda Fisher Thornton
Author of 7 Lenses, Speaker, Bringing Out the Best in People and Organizations Through Proactive Ethical Leadership, CEO Leading in Context, 2014 Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior, Adj. Assist. Prof. of Ethics and Leadership, UR SPCS

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