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Good business: Why placing ethics over profits pays off



Ethics is a term that’s often misunderstood, yet it’s becoming an increasingly important component of business practice, particularly in this region. As an emerging market, the Middle East has witnessed a significant growth and, with Dubai’s win of Expo 2020, this is set to further increase over the next six years.

In the race towards a sustainable economy, the pressure is on companies to practice what they preach by acting more responsibly and reporting on their efforts and achievements.The fight against corruption is also strategically crucial for the companies’ community, in order to create a level playing field for today’s globalized markets.


Philips has long recognized these needs, and is actively engaged in various initiatives that contribute to raising the standard on business ethics, including the Partnering Against Corruption Initiative of the World Economic Forum, working towards a common goal. Philips has been a global signatory of the UN Global Compact principles since 2007, and this reflects the commitment of the company to high standards in accountability and transparency. In addition, to really make an impact, we find it necessary that our partners share our values when it comes to doing business in a fair and ethical manner, because ethics really do trickle down to each and every level of operation.


When companies work ethically, they will naturally outpace competition. Why? Simply because customers, as we’ve discovered, will see them as a trusted partner, not only for what they do, but how it is delivered. Commitment from management is a key factor to effectively deal with these situations.


As I put it to my organization: the only business that we do is ethical business. Particulary in high pressure environments, we must make a concerted effort to continuously focus on ethical behaviours. Guided by the Philips General Business Principles (GBP), we govern the business’ decisions and apply equally to corporate actions and to the behaviour of individual employees. They incorporate Philips’ fundamental principles for doing business with the intention of ensuring compliance with laws and regulations, as well as with Philips’ norms, values and standards.


Business ethics have been part of Philips’ way of working for decades. Our focus has expanded from dealing directly with consumers, to developing solutions for governments, businesses and working with partners and via joint ventures. Since then, our focus on responsible business conduct and our behavior has grown even more.


In taking our first steps in the region to promote ethical practices as part of daily business operations, we announced our partnership with the Pearl Initiative, a non-profit organisation based in the GCC. In our partnership with the Pearl Initiative, we are working to promote transparency, accountability, corporate governance and best practices in the Arab World. This partnership is about using our knowledge of the region and experience of driving awareness of the benefits of best practice to reinforce positive regional experiences – ultimately encouraging more companies to raise business standards and fight corruption.

Roy Jakobs

President and Chief Executive Officer, Middle East and Turkey

Roy Jakobs first joined Philips in 2010 as Lighting’s Chief Marketing Officer, a role in which he held responsibility for global marketing of lighting solutions, in the fast changing lighting industry.


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