There is high demand for businesses to build an ethical culture that permeates the strategy of the company. There is informal pressure from organisations offering impromptu reviews, think Trip Advisor and watchdog, and social media channels to amplify any complaints or dissatisfaction, think Facebook and snap chat. Added to this there are an increasing array of organisations and regulations designed to safeguard different groups all of which increase the need for ethical business practices
A company should embed its ethics into a management culture, leaders should perform with integrity which will filter through into all other areas of the corporation. There are six areas that every company should adhere to when building an ethical business. These are Commitment, Relevance, Positive Value, Influence, Action and Means not Ends. If these are used, then they will uphold the ethical structure of a company.
- Commitment. When building a business, this is an essential stepping stone. A leader needs to show and share with their colleagues their ethical position. They need to clarify their own values and match them with the organisation, making sure those values are shared frequently and explain why they matter so much. Within all your business actions demonstrate integrity, fairness and respect. Put into motion, structures, and procedures and process’ so that people understand the commitment expected of them also. This form of commitment is part of building an ethical business.
- Relevance. If you are faced with a business choice, then consider how relevant it will be to the corporation both long and short term. Check the ethical implications of a company’s goals and business plan and explore for any hidden benefits or potential drawbacks. Consider an ‘ethical filter’ whereby any business decision is assessed for the wider impact socially.
- Acting Positive. This is about prompting leaders to look at ways to add positive value rather than negative value to a company.
- Influence. Business leaders have many choices when it comes to influencing. What criteria should a company use when trying to make the right choice? Certain values do however have a universal appeal, for example, courage and integrity, love and kindness. In an organisation, this will be reflected in the heart of the company, where compassion, kindness and mutual respect will offer the guidance needed if or when ethical challenges are apparent.
- Action. Converting ethical influence into practical action is also important. By identifying the core values of the company, it is possible to make sure the organisation has direction and strategy. Through establishing a framework of expected behaviour, it will be possible to review standard operating procedures and work out means of measuring performance.
- Means not Ends. This is about the means a leader uses to show concern with HOW the organisation achieves its goals, not just about the end result itself. Involve the stakeholders and engage them so that they, in turn, will incorporate ethics into their delivery. By bringing consistency and transparency to any decision-making process, ethical practice and leadership will follow.
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