Does The Bottom Line Always Trump Ethics?

From Reuters, a comment from China Labor Watch:

“The case of Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, shows that corporate codes of conduct and factory auditing are not enough by themselves to strengthen workers’ rights if corporations are unwilling to pay the real price it costs to produce a product according to the standards in their codes.”

Acting ethically costs real money. It limits the return on investment. It complicates dealings with suppliers, competitors and often the government.

Doing the right thing is never cheap. The wrong thing can make you enormous sums of money in a world where this kind of behavior has no down side.