Conducting Ethical Business Practices
Business ethics, an oxymoron to some.
Many people hear the word business and instantly think of immoral and greedy people. Names like Enron and Madoff come to mind. But to many others, business is not innately unethical. I personally believe that only the bad parts of business become well known and so few people know about the companies who are doing a lot of good in this society. Although thanks to Bill Gates we do have a name and a face for proper business practices (Gates Foundation!)
Is profit the opposite of ethical business?
Many people believe that in order to make good money you have to do unethical and immoral things. I believe this is far from the truth, in fact unethical business is very unprofitable in the long run. Unethical behavior can destroy companies, retirement funds, families, parts of society, and even parts of our own planet. Is this really profitable? Is it profitable to fake earnings and make obscene amounts of money only to have it come crashing down years later, end up in prison, and owe money to everybody? Is it profitable to develop lifelong customers by building trust and real relationships? Is it profitable to put money into sustainable business practices to ensure your business has resources years down the road? Responsibility is where the real money is, for everyone.
What about the people who feel like they're just telling 'white lies'?
A lot of unethical business practice derives from desperation and the need to maintain business. Lie now, fix later. When this compounds on itself and gets out of control terrible tragedies occur, but I'm going to guess that many have gotten away with little lies to cover hiccups that if found out would cause even more damage to the company. This becomes a difficult issue to deal with as it becomes quite a risk. Let's face it, stockholders don't care about anything but earnings, and unfortunately normally short term earnings. I would urge people to consider the risks as the potential damage can be drastically severe or even irreparable. Smaller problems are easier to fix.
This issue turned individually is probably much more relevant though as most people are not managers in positions to make corporate decisions. How does an individual handle personal ethics in the business world? Issues like lying to your boss or even stealing supplies from the office. In regards to this my only advice is to live in a way that you approve of and not worry so much about your job.
How should small business owners conduct ethical business?
There are many small business owners out there and let's be honest, it is very easy to conduct unethical behavior in business. It can happen on all sorts of scales. It could be cutting corners in an unethical way or simply not paying people you owe. My belief here is that if you take care of people they will take care of you. Unfortunately, if you're the good guy, there will inevitably be a few jerks here and there that take advantage of it. It makes you feel terrible, like you've been abused and taken for a fool. But truthfully they're the foolish one, you have to be aware of that. Furthermore, while 1 out of 20 may rip you off, if you take care of the other 19 they'll feel appreciated and be more likely to return and tell others. In fact, people talk a lot to others about their good and bad experiences with companies. If you treat 1 customer poorly you can be sure many others will hear about it and may not do business with you. Responsible good business may cost you the 'fool tax' by the occasional jerk, but the good experience others get will help multiply your business beyond that.
Let's all be honest here, there really is no need to explain that responsible, moral, and generally good-hearted business is the best for everyone. It creates for a better, happier, wealthier, and more efficient society. So come on people, quit cheating, stealing, and lying and making pitiful excuses for it.
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