Will there be an emergence of ‘ethics-tech’ startups? - The Bakery %

Will there be an emergence of ‘ethics-tech’ startups?

Andrew Humphries

Companies are upheld to higher ethical standards than ever before, and the ethics of technology is frequently called into question. But what about the role technology could play in supporting ethical decision making in itself?

In your average day at work, how often would you stop to think about the ethical impact of your decisions?

For C-level executives ethics is becoming an increasingly hot topic; and one which they cannot afford to shy away from. The repercussions of workplace misconduct have never loomed larger in public consciousness. Due to the amplification effect of social media, increased attention now gets placed upon misconduct. Particularly for those at the executive level who find themselves tied up in a scandal (or displaying an ambivalent response to one) the impact on their organisation is not inconsequential.

A senior executive’s reputation will play a large role in their career success, and as we sit with senior leaders in the world’s largest business in our roles at The Bakery, we sense the importance of personal integrity that lies behind major business decisions.

We see how technology has increased the virality of media, uncovering corporate scandals quickly then spreading them like wildfire through social media.

A recent study by management consultancy Strategy& reveals that for the first time in history, the most common reason for a CEO firing today will be a lapse in integrity. Last year showed record levels of misconduct as the cause of their departure — as well as the turnover of C-suite being as much as 18% annually.

Just look at recent media cases of CEO’s moral compass being called to question in the media this side of 2019 alone. Allegations of misconduct have led to the public defamation or resignation of long-standing executives including:

Leaders are under more scrutiny than to conform to the highest ethical standard to remain reactive in the face of real-time social media news cycle pressures, tighter C-suite succession planning and greater scrutiny from both investors and the public. Boards are placed under scrutiny to make a public statement and ‘resolve’ the executive’s position within the company.

But when we talk about ethics within the context of technology, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is the role that ‘Big Tech’ plays on the world stage. How technology bears influence on global decisions around privacy, democracy, safety and the accurate representation of people in consumer products. Discussions are usually centered around training A.I. to remove negative bias, or the moral code of driverless cars, or the protection of children from harmful content online.

But rather than focusing the discussion upon the ethics oftechnology, what about the use of technology in ethics?

What are the ways in which organisations can use technology to help improve its ethical conduct?

There is a rising trend amongst large organisations to put ethics front and centre.

The emergence of C-suite positions being handed out to leaders with titles including Chief Ethics Officer, Chief Integrity Officer, and Chief Trust Officer are early signs that these topics are of utmost importance to the Board.

At The Bakery, solving business challenges using tech solutions across the startup ecosystem lies at the heart of our offering. So we are excited by the emergences of this trend we are now coining ‘ethics-tech’, which, at its core helps organisations to stay on the right side of integrity.

To get you thinking about what this might look like in your own organisation, we’ve profiled a few startups with solutions we consider vital in the protecting, advancing, and addressing of business ethics.


The modern slavery due diligence platform RightsDD enables organisations to keep track of their supply chains in order to remove suppliers violating modern-day slavery acts. With 40m slaves living in the world today, over a third of these are exploited in business supply chains. The RightsDD team includes human rights lawyers and has been built to support business’ understanding of where they might be at risk of violating laws. They are alumni of the tech-for-good accelerator Bethnal Green Ventures and have the backing of leading organizations in the anti-slavery and tech for good field.


A platform for measuring and resolving workplace harassment and bias, InChorus enables employees to keep track of ‘microaggressions’ as and when they occur. The startup is built on the premise that workplaces need to foster psychological safety and that culture can indeed be measured, and improved upon if problematic behaviour gets logged and therefore prevented early enough in its lifecycle.


A responsible sourcing company, PeerLedger gives companies a tool to protect a range of ethical standards — across human rights, personal safety and environmental factors. Their use of blockchain technology certifies the conduct of organisations, with a view to making protocols transparent. By ensuring higher quality materials are produced, documents are secured and products sourced — the integrity of the supply chain right to the customer is held at the highest value.

We’d love to hear from you if this resonates with the current concerns of your organisation and understand how you are currently approaching these challenges.

Do you feel there is a role for technology to support your efforts to remain ethical as an organisation?

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