Between ethics and morality

Communicators increasingly face ethical dilemmas, yet there is confusion about how to proceed.

In January this year, it was revealed that Barclays had joined a list of other investment banks by being removed from the list of companies in which the ethical funds run by the UK’s Co-operative Asset Management can be invested in. This step was largely prompted by revelations about the Bank’s management which had emerged in the Libor interest-rate fixing scandal, and gained widespread coverage at the time. As a very public ethically-driven backlash, the news raised questions about the responsibilities of financial institutions; but what about the role of the corporate communicator in ethical dilemmas such as the Libor scandal? Last year’s European Communication Monitor (the largest transnational survey in communication management worldwide and is co-organised by Communication Director) found that more communicators were concerned with ethical dilemmas than before, with six out of 10 respondents reporting that they had encountered situations that might be legally acceptable but nevertheless were problematic from a moral point of view.