In my last article, Ethics is Like Getting to Work in the Morning, I wrote about how most of us have established a strong, inner or intrinsic knowledge of ethics. I argued that there is a lot about getting to work that relies on automatic action and that ethics is similarly ingrained and intrinsic to us. I explained how I take actions instinctively to be able to drive to work rather than rely on a prescribed set of instructions. Similarly most of us learn ethics from our families, friends, society and experiences; developing our own ethics without reading a single book on the subject.

The main analogy I used was the drive to work however not everyone drives to work – people ride pushbikes, motorbikes, walk, car share and/or catch public transport. When we think about the intrinsic knowledge that people have about ‘getting to work in the morning’ we need to understand that its different for almost every person to a greater or lesser extent.

Being an ethical investment expert I need to spend a lot of time listening to people so that I can understand their ethical priorities. It is important for me to understand their position rather than just assume that their ethical priorities are the same as mine. People engage me to give them investment advice that is aligned to their ethical priorities not mine.

If people have read this article because they thought I was going to put forward an argument about the ethics of getting to work via car versus bike versus public transport, well that was just a good heading choice on my part however the ethical issue is the same. We can’t really answer that question until we understand people’s ethical priorities and their individual circumstances.

Listening to people is one of the most important aspects of my role as an ethical investment expert. Its not really about understanding the philosophy of ethics, its about understanding that everyone has a different perspective, that everyone gets to their work in the morning a different way.

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The Four Pillars of Ethical and Responsible Investment Advice

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