The economic value of ethics

Updated: Feb 17



The world of work is changing. Not only is machine and algorithmic automation causing certain professions to become obsolete, but also attitudes towards work are transitioning. Workers want to be able to work flexibly. And they want to work for companies that are ensuring the future of people and the planet. The companies that get this wrong are losing employees fast — so rapidly, that the rise in attrition post-pandemic has been dubbed ‘the Great Resignation’ by some commentators.


So we have two trends:


  1. There will be a greater number of workers in new professions and;

  2. The philosophy of what it means to lead a good life is changing the way a workforce interacts with their employers.


A region that can lead the way and make the right decisions to embrace the new world is primed to benefit — economically, socially and environmentally. And I firmly believe governments should invest in the ethics industry to do just that.


It has long been shown high-income countries have more of the workforce in tertiary and quaternary sectors, and so as you are looking to expand your economies you should be looking towards these areas. As countries become more industrialised, there has also been talk of people reskilling in areas where machines cannot specialise — for example, physiotherapy, nursing and, of course, ethical analysis.


Even if ethics is only half as successful as environmental consultancy in a decade, this means it could contribute $100 billion to the world economy over the next 10 years.

We believe the ethics industry could grow at the same pace as the environmental consulting industry. At the moment, environmental consulting is worth at least $38 billion globally (2021 figure), with an expectation that another $9 billion will be added to this number in the next nine years. When you consider that global consultancy services are worth around $900 billion worldwide, this means environmental services currently account for 4.2% of the market.


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There is a growing demand for the specialisation. Investors are increasingly looking to environmental, social and governance metrics (ESG) to evaluate the impact of their ventures. Ethical consultancy covers the social and governance parts of this acronym.


Even if ethics is only half as successful as environmental consultancy in a decade, this means it could contribute $100 billion to the world economy over the next 10 years.


This is only a partial economic argument. There are so many other reasons to invest in ethics; to increase the wellbeing of your people, the impact you have worldwide, and to ensure your region creates a legacy for future generations.


We think it’s high time governments invest in this growing industry.


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