Over my years in business I have seen that many decisions carry an ethical or moral dimension. Even when the business issues and imperatives seem complex or intractable, the ethical side is usually straightforward or even easy; we ask how closely this or that matches our core values? If there is a close match, fine, go ahead – it is the right thing to do. No match and we stop – it is the wrong thing to do, regardless of what is on offer and how lucrative it is. Simple, consistent and it has enabled us to build our reputation across the world. Customers know they can trust us; deliverables will always be to a high standard and prices reasonable.
Applying this approach to the question of membership of the European Union (EU), we would need to ask ourselves how closely the core values and behaviour of the EU matches our own. Do we feel comfortable with the EU’s cost (seems more extravagant and wasteful than us); comfortable with its attitude to democracy (doesn’t seem accountable to us, the electorate), level of bureaucracy and meddling in our lives (should there be more or less control of us and every aspect of our lives by a super-state’s bureaucracy), is there the same respect for our ancient hard won freedoms and heritage? For me, the decision on EU membership is simple, there is a great mismatch of the ethical standards and consequently I want us to leave, and re-build our standards and country, not continue our path of managed decline and lack of ambition.
Many of the arguments over European Union (EU) membership seem to centre on the effect on jobs; you have to belong to the ‘club’ in order to sell you products and services in the EU. Much is often made of suggesting that ‘millions’ of jobs in this country are dependent on membership of the EU. Well, over the years in business I have found that to sell overseas you actually have to provide products and services that customers want to buy at prices they can afford. In other words, you have to be competitive, better still world-leading, which needs hard work. Trust is also necessary for business to function. Membership of the EU does not automatically make you competitive, but membership can have some invidious harmful effects on your business; on its ability to expand and create new jobs.
In the UK, as a small business we face discrimination compared with larger companies that can be traced back via public sector framework agreements to gold-plating of EU public procurement legislation and attempts to reduce the resulting bureaucracy. We are not alone; the playing field is far from level, especially for specialised and innovative small businesses, the ones that will create the jobs of tomorrow. The situation is not fair, ethical or sensible. It can also be very disheartening, to find after doing your best for a well- known part of the public sector to learn that you will never be considered for future work because it will all be going for the next four years to large companies; regardless of their performance. I much prefer working for overseas customers; we are respected because of our professionalism, expertise, innovativeness and reasonable prices.
As a small company we set our own ethical or business standards and keep to them. If, as a country we leave the EU, we will be in similar situation, able to maintain our own ethical standards and build our own respected, prosperous place in the world.
Photo by European Parliament
Photo by budcaddell