Startups can and should be a melting pot of passion, energy and commitment. Often the team are making their first forays into the world of business. There can be a lot to learn very quickly, and often that means the team don’t have a lot of time to think about the ethical issues involved in taking on responsibility for running a business…
In my role as a director of a Charity, I was recently reminded of the “Nolan Committee” standards for public life, which I reproduce below. Although some of the text is a bit public-sector specific, I think these are admirable principles for all leaders to aspire to, whether in public life or in a startup!
- Selflessness – Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other benefits for themselves, their family or their friends.
- Integrity – Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.
- Objectivity – In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
- Accountability – Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
- Openness – Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.
- Honesty – Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
- Leadership – Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.