Building Entrepreneurial Ethics and Business Culture in New Context

1:16:47 PM | 10/14/2022

Business culture and entrepreneurial ethics are key factors that create business philosophy and customer confidence and are core values ​​for companies to build, sustain and develop their brands. It is certain that a strong brand must be built on an increasingly solid and attractive corporate culture. Broadly speaking, culture is the foundation of business development; when the cultural foundation is strong, the business will develop sustainably.

This statement was made by Mr. Nguyen Xuan Thang, Politburo Member, Director of Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics, Chairman of the Central Theoretical Council at the Scientific Workshop “Vietnamese Entrepreneurial Ethics and Business Culture in the New Context”. The event, jointly organized by the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), attracted more than 300 delegates (150 face-to-face and 150 online) who were officials of central agencies, academics, economic experts, business leaders, and domestic and foreign business associations. This event celebrated the 77th anniversary of Uncle Ho's letter to the businesspeople (October 13, 1945 - October 13, 2022) and the 18th anniversary of Vietnam Entrepreneurs’ Day (October 13, 2004 - October 13, 2022).

Endogenous resources to promote sustainable business development

The core of business culture is entrepreneurial ethics, he said. To form a business culture, it is necessary to start by developing entrepreneurs whose morality is root and foundation, and whose aspirations for development are the destination. Entrepreneurial ethics regulates and orientates business activities toward civilization and humanity. Therefore, entrepreneurial ethics and business culture not only help inspire companies to go with society, and foster responsibility to the community and ecological environment but are also endogenous resources to promote sustainable business development.

“When good cultural and ethical values ​​are absorbed into economic activities, development goals of enterprises will go beyond seeking benefits only for themselves but become a mission and responsibility to prosperity and development of the country,” he noted.

In particular, business culture and ethics play an even more important role in helping companies overcome difficulties and challenges to achieve successful development in a rapidly changing world full of risks, uncertainties and volatilities. They become the "pillar" and the "fulcrum" for companies to stand firm against unexpected events and shocks of the market and the COVID-19 pandemic and even the profound impacts of the globalization wave, digital transformation storm and the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is “emerging” globally and sweeping through every country.

Historic opportunity for Vietnamese entrepreneurs in a new context

VCCI President Pham Tan Cong, said, after more than 35 years of doi moi (renovation), the Vietnamese entrepreneur force has made remarkable development in both quantity and quality and had great and important contributions to the cause of national construction and defense in many aspects. Currently, Vietnam has nearly 900,000 active companies, about 14,400 cooperatives and more than five million business households. Vietnamese entrepreneurs are now millions strong. They play a core role in managing and organizing production and business activities, creating goods and services for national needs and for export, and creating new competencies and positions for the country. Vietnam already has billion-dollar entrepreneurs and world-acclaimed products and brands. From a backward country, one of the poorest in the world, Vietnam's economy is now ranked Top 40 in the world by GDP and Top 20 by international trade. Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong said, “Our country has never had opportunity, potential, position and international prestige like today."

“In order to join and go abreast with developed countries, Vietnam needs to have two things: a developed economy and a corresponding social civilization, including business civilization and culture. Vietnamese businesspeople are destined and responsible to shoulder an important part of these two tasks. VCCI sees this as a challenge, but also a historic opportunity for Vietnamese entrepreneur development in the new context,” he said.

National business culture dominates all business aspects of a country, one of the decisive factors to shape, develop and affirm the national brand in the world market, said Mr. Cong. Building and elevating the national business culture will help multiply the competitive business advantages and make a significant contribution to Vietnam’s international integration. Entrepreneurs are the decisive nucleus to promote this process. Therefore, in order to build Vietnamese business culture, it is necessary to create a uniformity of thought and awareness among businesspeople as well as the whole society about ethical values ​​that entrepreneurs need to adhere to and start with by developing and encouraging the practice of business ethics.

In fact, in the past years, to carry out Party and State viewpoints, policies and orientations, VCCI has adopted many practical actions for building entrepreneurial ethics and business culture in Vietnam. In particular, the 7th VCCI National Congress in December 2021, empowered with the vision of building a "Strong business community - thriving nation”, set out six key tasks and three strategic breakthrough actions. Particularly, pioneering Vietnamese business culture, forming and promoting common standards of entrepreneurial ethics, is defined as both a central task and a strategic breakthrough action in developing entrepreneur and enterprise forces.

Deeper integration requires stronger safeguard of Vietnamese identity

Dr. Bui Dinh Phong, Institute of Ho Chi Minh and Party leaders, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

Importantly, when building entrepreneurial ethics and business culture, each entrepreneur must cultivate and practice them every day. Currently, many companies have issued corporate culture handbooks bearing their message, vision, mission and business philosophy. Each company states its core values ​​such as “Leadership”, “Innovation”, “Trust”, “Efficiency”, “Professionalism”, “Standard”, “Sustainability” and “Humanity” among other things. This practical way of doing things is deployed and operated every day in every business to bring in realistic results. Thereby, we can find those basic values ​​at different levels in President Ho Chi Minh's cultural heritage.

International integration, overseas investment expansion and participation in global value chains are indispensable and objective requirements of entrepreneurs in the current context because they can find technological prowess and good governance in the world. Vietnamese entrepreneurs and enterprises must have Vietnamese identity and Vietnamese values.  Deeper integration requires stronger protection of the Vietnamese soul, Vietnamese roots, and Vietnamese eternal values ​​such as a sense of community, humanity, respect for talent, diligence and creativity, and wholeheartedness to friends in difficulty and in misfortune. That is the story of culture and morality as instructed by President Ho Chi Minh.

Unlike China’s economic reform (Gaige kaifang) and the former Soviet Union’s reconstruction (Perestroika), Vietnam’s doi moi is a Vietnamese definition, showing creative spirit, bearing Vietnamese identity and being Made in Vietnam. It also shapes and directs Vietnamese businesspeople today. With that perception and action, Vietnamese entrepreneurs and enterprises have been, and will be, determined, persistent to make more and more contributions to the cause of national construction and defense, build and develop a powerful, prosperous and the happy state of Vietnam, advance forward together, go shoulder to shoulder with world powers, and successfully realize the wish of great President Ho Chi Minh and aspirations of our nation.

Building entrepreneurial ethics and business culture with sustainable business development

Mr. Nguyen Quang Vinh, Executive Vice President of VCCI, Chair of the Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD)

In recent years, sustainable development has become a more urgent requirement than ever. Especially, given uncertainties, unpredictability and unprecedented challenges in the world, both at present and in the future, as well as new requirements for international integration, sustainable business is the only choice and a common approach that international and Vietnamese business communities agreed and committed to pursuing in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (also known as 2030 Agenda) in 2015.

The Government materialized the 2030 Agenda into a national action plan for the implementation of the agenda adapted to the context and conditions of Vietnam, with 115 specific targets. To realize these targets, the business community plays a vital and indispensable role. The development "train" not only needs a firm "rail" - a synchronous and open policy system, but also needs a durable "engine" - a resource and strength of companies, to reach the station of sustainability.

On the contrary, enterprises themselves must also pursue sustainable development to survive and grow in the long term. It is an organic, inseparable relationship. Therefore, building Vietnamese entrepreneurial ethics and business culture in association with sustainable business development is a very necessary, important and meaningful requirement.

Incorporating environmental protection and climate change action into corporate culture and business strategy has become a mandatory requirement stemming from huge challenges that humanity is facing due to climate change, depletion of natural resources and loss of biodiversity.

Actions to respond to climate change and pursue a green economy are, and will be, one of the priority focuses of the Government-adopted action programs, thus creating pressure for businesses to transform and adapt in a timely manner. In contrast, the business community also plays a particularly important and decisive role because new business models are geared to sustainable business development for the community and people, to green production and consumption, and to net zero emissions.

Promoting national cultural traditions in building entrepreneurial ethics

Dr. Pham Duy Duc, Former Director of the Institute of Culture and Development, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

Given the socialist-oriented market economic development and current deepening international integration, Vietnamese entrepreneurs and enterprises increasingly assert their role as locomotives and driving forces to create rapid and sustainable economic growth.

Entrepreneurial ethics and corporate culture are not only social responsibility but become goals and motivations for entrepreneur and enterprise development. These are internal factors, causes and constant conditions to achieve sustainable business development. In particular, the basic principles of entrepreneurial ethics and business ethics are upholding honesty, respect for people, respect for domestic and international laws, respect for intellectual property rights, environmental protection and respect for social responsibility which are always stated and practiced to build an entrepreneur force and corporate culture.

At the same time, we need to especially uphold patriotic traditions, strengthen the self-reliance of the nation, sustain passion and unity in the community, and help each other get rich legitimately in the fierce competition on the international market. Currently, it is necessary to thoroughly and comprehensively grasp the guiding viewpoints of the Party which is to uphold national interests as the top priority, with first of all building entrepreneurial ethics and corporate culture.

Moreover, the State and social and economic organizations need to discover and honor typical examples of Vietnamese entrepreneurs and businesses and condemn and strictly handle acts of legal and ethical violations, build a healthy business culture and environment to bring into full play the capacity and competitive advantages of Vietnamese enterprises in the current international integration context.


The “Entrepreneurs dedicated to Vietnamese economy” program needed

Mr. Pham Dinh Doan, President of Phu Thai Group

Business ethics is an important theme. Devoted to national development after 30 years of doi moi, the first generation of entrepreneurs (F1) has been constantly growing. Currently, the next generation of entrepreneurs (F2) is continuing their business careers. F2 is an energetic, well-trained generation.

The F1 generation has helped develop Vietnam's economy for more than three decades, but the F2 generation importantly helps accelerate the Vietnamese economy. To achieve this goal, an ethical foundation is important.

I think, for a long time, we have talked about business ethics, which seems to be distant, but ethics is, in fact, an indispensable part of every businessman as well as knowledge, aspiration and belief. These are the belongings of entrepreneurs. When we talk about entrepreneurs, we usually believe that they are ethical because they represent tens, hundreds, and thousands of their employees. Each entrepreneur must be exemplary and lawfully compliant.

Phu Thai Group has continuously expanded its business and established eight joint venture companies with foreign corporations. This requires Phu Thai Group and its leaders to commit to integrity and law compliance. In doing business with foreign corporations, ethical and legal values ​​are very important, from which one can learn, change perception and act to achieve sustainable business development.

VCCI can launch the “Entrepreneurs Dedicated to Vietnamese Economy” program. Behind the dedication of entrepreneurs is their law compliance. This program is the start of building entrepreneurial ethics for the new generation in the next 30 years for Vietnam to achieve breakthrough development. That is the ethical legacy that the F1 generation passes on to F2 with a sense of business integrity, leaving F2 unspoiled and ready for integration.

Sustainable development is key to branding

Madam Thai Huong, Founder, Chairwoman of Strategy Council, TH Group

An important matter in business operations is sustainable development built on six pillars of business culture. That is the strength and the foundation for the success or failure of a business.

When leading TH Group, my first job was to create a valuable brand built on its core values imbued ​​with overarching humanity. In addition to this are professionalism because the company must have labor productivity, reasonable production cost and product quality. However, sustainable development is still key to branding with a product strategy based on core values.

We are aiming for the sustainable development of TH Group on six pillars: nutrition, health, environment, community, education, human and animal welfare. Wherein, humans are the focus but environmental protection, advanced technological application and governance science are highly valued. If these factors are separated individually, production costs will not be guaranteed. When these pillars are interrelated and interwoven, they will help improve labor productivity and product quality. Eventually, benefits will be harmonized among stakeholders.

Anh Mai (Vietnam Business Forum)