Does money have a moral position?

Decisions, money and (ethical) standards

Money has no morals.

Many will have heard this sentence in various contexts. Usually, people in business or politics, in particular, are accused of particularly conscienceless handling of financial resources. Not sustainable enough, only pursuing an agenda and making a pseudo-donation to redeem a damaged corporate image. A wide range of accusations. However, a change of behaviour can often not be seen.

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Does money have no moral standing?


The critical review of historical realities may be painful, but it is necessary. For example, there is evidence that free-market corporations have funded extensive disinformation campaigns about the effects of climate change. For a long time, this seemed like a trivial matter. Today we see the impact. Diversity, rights for women, and rights for minorities, often happened only after massive social pressure (and not infrequently because it then paid off financially for the participating companies in terms of advertising). In the Third Reich, German free enterprise organisations willingly helped the Nazis. To this day, corporate behaviour is always in the headlines in a negative light (see, for example, the persecution of the Uyghurs in China, a fact which Volkswagen, according to the accusation, ignores, although facilities such as labour camps can be found in the vicinity of company sites) — more on these aspects in this week’s podcast (links below).


When making a decision, always have reliable and valid data prepared to make better decisions. When providing information, pay particular attention to source criticism, as many sources represent a vested interest and will not provide a neutral picture. Based on this data, develop a best case, the best possible outcome, a worst case, the worst possible outcome, and the managed case, the middle ground between the two, to decide afterwards. Crucial to the quality of the result in practice is the quality of the understanding in theory. If data is misinterpreted or misunderstood, no positive outcome can be assumed.


It can be assumed that we cannot make perfect decisions. Nevertheless, we try everything in our power to come as close as possible to the result of the ideal decision. In the case of wrong decisions or accusations, the presumption of innocence always applies, and a reasonable investigation replaces any unprofessional prejudgement. However, in case of a negative outcome from a decision, you must allow investigations or examinations to happen. You cannot work in an organisation guilty of misconduct, which you now know at the latest, and then claim that you “have nothing to do” with the matter. There is no complete disassociation from the organisation if you knowingly remain permanently part of the misbehaving entity. It is in your interest to work sustainably from the beginning.

More on money and morality in this week’s podcast: Apple Podcasts / Spotify.

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Niels Brabandt
Leadership Magazine by Niels Brabandt / NB Networks

Niels Brabandt is in business since 1998. Helping managers to become better leaders by mastering the concept of Sustainable Leadership. Based in Spain & London.