The Value of Virtue in Business


One of the organisational theories gathering momentum at the moment is the concept of virtue and what it means for the success of an organisation.

As companies around the world become richer there is increasing pressure on leadership teams to not only do well, but to do the right thing well, whether that means providing nutrition programs for employees and their families or ensuring corners aren’t cut in safety checks. Transforming your business to a ‘virtuous’ model can have significant and long-term benefits, resulting in engaged employees and satisfied clients.

To help business leaders better understand the opportunities available, we have outlined the fundamentals of virtuous organisations below.

What is a virtuous organisation?

While there are several definitions of what constitutes a virtuous organisation, each has the same fundamental core: a virtuous organisation is one with a strong moral compass upon which it creates value for customers, employees, shareholders and the community.

Virtuous organisations are not concerned with chasing quarterly earnings that may have dangerous consequences for employees and the local community and environment; they put virtue at the core of their business to give them the edge in the broader marketplace.

What characteristics do virtuous organisations share?

Virtuous organisations come in different shapes, sizes and markets, but they all share the following key characteristics:

  • Concern for employees’ wellbeing
  • A long-term view, planning from generation to generation, not quarter to quarter
  • A sense of responsibility and a strong desire to give back, especially to the communities within which they exist because those communities have played a part in creating their wealth
  • A clear desire for social as well as financial betterment.

Who makes an organisation virtuous?

Everyone in an organisation is responsible for making it virtuous, but virtue must start with and be championed by the organisation’s leader: it is the leader’s values and vision that define and shape the organisation’s culture. If the leader’s values include compassion, a sense of responsibility, and caring commitment, then the company’s will too.

According to Frank Islam and Ed Crego,[i] the leaders of virtuous organisations fulfil three critical roles:

  • Navigator, guiding the business to do the right things and bring qualities like compassion and integrity into the organisation’s culture and operations.
  • Capital creator, thinking beyond the financial capital to the intellectual and spiritual capital, creating results that exceed the total brain power of the individuals in the organisation, and encouraging a motivational force that makes everyone want to do their best.
  • Value generator, creating ‘value circles’ that emanate out from them, through all levels of the organisation, and ultimately to customers and the community.

How does mindfulness work in virtuous organisations?

Mindfulness involves concentration, focus and harnessed energy, so in an organisational context, the spiritually mindful person is aware and discerning, able to identify issues clearly while also seeing the bigger picture, and acts virtuously, all of which are crucial capabilities for an organisation undergoing growth or change.

The bottom line is, how we treat each other, our customers and our surroundings, affects how well our businesses do. We know that companies benefit by considering what it means to be virtuous, because to succeed today we must do the right thing, and do it well.

Certus3 is currently working with virtuous organisations to develop sustainable operating models, which put virtuous concepts front and centre. To discuss the opportunity of utilising our experience to explore the development of a virtuous operating model for your business, contact Certus3.



[i] Islam, F and E Crego, ‘The Need to Build Virtuous Organizations,’, accessed 6 April 2016.