Bülent Senver talks about the necessity of ethical governance in the new digital world and highlights the difficulties and challenges facing the business arena in the digitalization of economies.
He was a guest editor of the World Class Startup magazine’s special edition for the Global Fundraising Stage of the World Congress of Angel Investors, WBAF 2022. Angel Investor Review now shares his article with its subscribers online. Bülent Senver is a Senior Associate at the World Business Angels Investment Forum and the President of WBAF’s Ethical Governance, Standard of Excellence, and Quality Leadership Committee.
Digitalization is profoundly changing the way we view and practice business life. Do we want to create a digital economy based on our values and moral principles? Do we want to create a digital transformation involving society, which includes people who either do not have the financial means or the necessary know-how to benefit from digitalization?
First we must answer this question. Do we care about ethics and the well-being of the society?
According to the dictionary, the term ethics has several meanings. One of which, is “the principles of conduct governing an individual or a company”. Ethics is the study of morality. The study of business ethics is not the study of what is legal but the application of moral standards to business decisions. Morality comprises the standards an individual or a company has about what is right and wrong, or good and bad. This definition is a great challenge to the business community.
Digitalization of economies will make the ethical puzzle more complex and complicated.
Digital ethics including data use, data protection, privacy and human rights should be put on an equal footing with blockchain, artificial intelligence, edge computing, robotics, metaverse and quantum computers. Digital ethics is becoming an important economic factor for companies who want to achieve a sustainable success in the marketplace.
Companies who take digital ethics seriously will reward their shareholders and stakeholders, and create a competitive advantage over their rivals who simply treat digital ethics as an issue of formality. Companies who make digital ethics a priority have the potential to win and retain the trust of their customers.
The key factor of success for digital economy and digital products and services is “trust”.
Increasing social awareness on the risks of data breaches, leaks, theft, misuse, disruption, hacking, and other misconduct issues leads to worldwide discussions and worries. The challenge we face today is no longer technological, it is societal. The direct influence of trust in society in the use of technology is the real challenge. Trust in digital technology is the key ethical concern of the business community.
How do we bring our values and new digital technologies together? How can we protect the human rights in the digital economy? Soon, in many areas, algorithms and not people will decide. What role will ethics play in this type of decision making? Regarding “Artificial Intelligence”, how intelligent should it be? Who will develop the standards for digital ethics? How can we enforce companies and governments to use the digital ethics standards? Who is going to audit the compliance of companies and governments to digital ethics standards? How should we reward those who implement the digital ethics standards? How can we punish those who ignore the principles of digital ethics?
There are a lot difficult and complicated questions the world leaders should answer.
Companies, governments, and regulatory bodies are still struggling to find the best answers to these questions. Developing the digital ethics standards, to be used worldwide, is at present a wishful dream. The world needs pioneers who can develop the digital ethics standards and begin implementing them. The difficulties and the complexities should not stop us.
We must find the correct solutions to ethical questions before digitalization gives birth to evil practices, which might harm the society. We should not give up. “Where there is a will there is a way!” We must find a way to build a trustworthy digital economy for the good of the community. WS
Bülent Şenver is Senior Associate, World Business Angels Investment Forum and the President of Ethical Governance, Standard of Excellence, and Quality Leadership Committee