The aim of this paper is to put forward an ethical framework for the conceptualization and development of ethics audits, here understood as a catalyst for company dialogue and in general, for management of ethics in the company. Ethics auditing is understood as the opportunity and agreement to devise a system to inform on ethical corporate behavior. This system essentially aims to increase the transparency and credibility of the company’s commitment to ethics. At the same time, the process of elaborating this system allows us to introduce the moral dimension into company actions and decisions, thereby completing a key dimension of the production, maintenance and development of trust capital. To this end, the following four steps are taken. First, we analyze the relation between ethics auditing and trust as a basic moral resource in the dialogue between the company and its various stakeholders. Second, we examine the social balance sheet as a precursor to ethics auditing and focus on what prevents it from going further. Third, we attempt to reconstruct the basic moral assumptions underlying the company’s social responsibility from the discourse ethics approach. Finally, we present a methodological framework from which to carry out our proposal, which embraces two basic theoretical perspectives stakeholder theory and the values derived from discourse ethics as a normative framework.
ethics audit business dialogue trust discourse ethics corporate social responsibility stakeholder approach