Creating profits is the most important goal of most businesses, but that does not necessarily help them endure. Japan has more than 21,000 companies over 100 years old, the most in the world. Of which 8 companies have existed for more than 1,000 years.

What helps them to challenge time? Professor Makoto Kanda at Meiji Gakuin University points out two things in common: always respecting credibility and not putting profits first.

I have been fortunate to participate in the CSR project in Vietnam under the EU-funded ISO 26000 project nearly 10 years ago. ISO 26000 is considered a "bible" for businesses that want to develop sustainably and are being practiced by thousands of businesses around the globe. And "business ethics" is one of the seven principles to practice social responsibility according to that set of standards.

During more than four years of joining the project, meeting businesses, I had surveys, analysis and testimonials about this concept. First, corporate ethics always comes from the moral commitment of the highest leader. Second, the voice of customers always creates pressure to change for the better of businesses, sometimes stronger than the law. Third, the more the company tends to apply ethical standards, the more successful it will be, the more stable it will grow, and the more customers will turn to it.

In particular, in Vietnam, business ethics have a distinctive nature. Many companies do business with a clear mind but do not want to be known because "just want to do business". "It's kind of hard to do a decent business, how many things to worry about while trying to keep yourself clean," one businessman told me, "I was so scared of fame that I had to pick up a lot of groups'. You know, they often ask about it, it's easy to make your business no longer kind, even if you want to. "

Many Western scholars argue that business ethics has only been studied and discussed since the 1960s. At the end of the 1970s, several universities in the United States began training in business ethics.

But according to my reflection and observation, business ethics have been promoted in Eastern society since more than 2,500 years ago. The first sermon after becoming the fully enlightened Buddha of Shakyamuni was the Noble Eightfold Path. These are the eight true paths that people need to practice if they want to escape suffering in this world. A great disciple of the Buddha - a merchant Suddatta - can be considered a person who has practiced business ethics since that time. The purpose of his business was to facilitate good deeds, to help the poor and lonely, so he was also known as the Lonely Level.

As I contemplated the Eightfold Path, I realized that at least five paths can be applied to business ethics: true awareness, true thinking, true language, true actions, and true livelihood. . Speaking in business language, an ethical business is one that has a consistent vision, mission, strategy, core values ​​and activities based on at least five of the eight true Buddha paths. have shown.

An example not uncommon in Vietnam: "backyard" businesses, crony capitalist businesses, serving certain interest groups (but not the people). They are unrighteous businesses right from the minds and minds of their founders. Because they are not built on an ethical foundation, those companies are difficult, or impossible, to become ethical businesses.

One of the most modern businessmen to practice business ethics and be very successful in the marketplace is Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia Group (USA). Yvon is well known for its business philosophy of "discouraging consumption" to limit the negative impact on the environment and society.

The message he repeated to the public before spending money on his company's products: repair, reuse, recycle what is there until it is no longer available. As a person who specializes in Japanese meditation practice, Yvon said that once the production and business activities have reached the perfect level, the profits will come by themselves without expecting.

Despite "discouraging" customers from buying their products, but he still has more customers, better development. He also co-founded the "1% for the Planet" non-profit organization in 2002, which currently brings together more than 1,800 members in more than 45 countries and is committed to contributing 1% of revenue to environmental protection. .

I hope one day, Vietnamese business name will be in "1% for the Planet" and not just a "billion dollar business" list. I also hope that there will soon be a "1% for Vietnam" organization set up by Vietnamese businesses to fund environmental projects in Vietnam, with the contribution of clean money from kind business. .

Once, I exchanged the story of "discouraging customers" of Yvon Chouinard with a Vietnamese business owner with seniority in Patagonia, he said: "Yvon called for kindness to society after all. create blessings for myself to enjoy long-term. My business must also make continuous efforts to process goods for him ".

No one can choose where he was born, but he can choose for himself a way of life. Just like this saying, entrepreneurs can choose the core values ​​for their businesses. Practicing kind business as well as bringing good seeds buried in moist soil, sooner or later, there will be days to enjoy sweet and fruit.

Nguyen Dang Anh Thi