In our practice in construction management, ethical decision‐making is a crucial factor for us at KEN International. Ethics is gradually becoming more important in the 21st century: The construction industry has expanded onto diverse international markets and global supply chains; Moreover, multinational management companies, as KEN international, are increasingly employing managers with different cultural backgrounds or engaging in joint ventures with domestic companies. With this augmented complexity in conducting our work, the business has become a high‐risk affair that only companies with a proven track record of reliability and integrity will survive over time.
The construction sector is infamously known for ill‐practices: It has a reputation for schedule delays, late payments, budget overruns, conflicts of interests, industrial disputes, among others. The global expansion of the industry has exposed it further to potential unethical behaviors. For instance, cultural relativism in business practices has become a more pressing issue. Relativism refers to the fact that universal truths or moral values do not exist; Instead, they vary from one culture and situation to another. Thus, the diversity of customs and moral standards across cultures and sub‐cultures of business partners may cause problems in managing projects and personnel along all stages of the construction activity.
Since ethics can be a subject of contestation, in particular in a globalized environment, management companies need a uniform basis to determine whether an act or a decision is good or bad, right or wrong. In some ways, the law represents a particular society’s code of ethics; however, for us at KEN International, the law is a mere least common denominator: In my 20 years of experience, I have sought to transcend it, to encompass Morality which informs sound and just human behavior. Although each company usually develops its own ‘code of ethics’ depending on its own specificities, we at KEN have found that Ethics in the construction management sector can have a unique framework.
Based on Sustainability’s triple bottom line principle (Economy, Ecology, Equity), we have broadened the framework to encompass ethical judgment as a pillar in its own right, as well as an infused practice in other pillars as well. KEN’s own framework is comprised of the following 4 E’s:
- Economy: KEN abides by an ethical conduct in financial management in order to preserve the interests and material betterment of all involved stakeholders and safeguard the long-term profitability of all construction projects. This effort pertains to all financial aspects of all activities involved under scope of services, including budget and finances, schedules and deadlines, conflicts of interests, and risks and hazards in construction and occupancy.
- Ethics: Refers to respecting all human dimensions in work, in particular their personal, cultural, spiritual, and social values. In all its business relationships, KEN attempts to achieve social cohesion between groups and individuals of diverse ethnic and social backgrounds, whether with impacted communities or the company’s own managers and employees. Strategies include supporting initiatives, building a culture of inclusion, and employing social contracts to create long-term mutually beneficial and trusted partnerships with all stakeholders.
- Environment: KEN’s view is that human activities should not deplete Nature’s ability to replenish its resource. As a result, aspects of mitigation and pollution prevention, environmental protection, resource-use efficiencies, and the improvement of eco‐systems and natural habitats as a result of construction activity should be taken into consideration in the scope of each project. Ethical stances in approaching environmental issues (i.e., Green Behavior) and their management in all stages of construction will ensure the long-term viability of projects.
- Engineering: The last pillar refers to the quality of design and construction work itself. Issues range from structural integrity to suitable materiality, high quality specifications and finishing, reliability, and product durability. KEN adopts the strictest rules in ethics to ensure its professional services and the final constructed edifice meets the highest criteria attainable and international acclaim of best practice.
As the Chinese proverb says, “The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of its own people”, so do we at KEN International solemnly believe that our strength as a company and our long-term commitment to excellence can only be built on the solid foundations of Ethics.