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How to know if you’re an ethical leader

Two political economists define what it means to do the right thing in business—and how to do it

Source | | SHANA LYNCH

When Intel decided it would no longer build chips with materials from conflict zones, it wasn’t a textbook bottom-line business decision. Finding these natural resources–tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold–from conflict-free countries took significant time and incurred extra costs.

But the “right thing to do,” as Intel’s director of corporate citizenship Gary Niekerk called the move, established the company as a leader in an industry-wide movement, pleased customers and employees, and built relationships with activists and NGOs.

“Ensuring a stable supply chain is always a good thing,” Niekerk said in a Stanford case study. “Ensuring the ability to source from multiple regions of the world is a good thing. It was done because it is the right thing to do, but as you back out, you see additional values.”

But how as a leader do you recognize the right thing to do? And how do you balance your responsibilities to shareholders, customers, employees, and society?

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