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How to improve business ethics

Updated on November 20, 2011

How important are business ethics to your business? For many entrepreneurs business ethics are not at the top of their
list of priorities, but they should be. Good business ethics not only help others (communities, other businesses, suppliers, employees
etc) but they also help your business. By being an ethical company you can promote a positive image and encourage others to
do business with you.

The benefits of a more ethical image is always something to consider, but will be more or less important depending on the industry you're in and the nature of
your business. Think about it, would you be more or less likely to purchase a product for you newborn baby from a seemingly
unethical company?

Business ethics
Business ethics | Source

This is something we all do all the time, make judgements based on the information we have of a business or
person and as a business owner it is your job to make sure that people see your business is the most positive light possible.

However! It is much better to worry about actually being ethical than it is to worry about being seen to be ethical, make an honest attempt
to run your business as ethically as possible and good things will come.

So, why do some businesses struggle with business ethics? An unethical business will almost undoubtedly have an unethical individual
in charge. Of course the larger the business the less direct influence a single person will have, but the decision makers will
ultimately control the companies ethical stance. As a small business owner, you have the opportunity to start your business off on the right foot.
Set strong ethical values from the off and watch your business grow into an ethically responsible company.

Ethical choices are something we all have to make, it is our personal ethical beliefs that will affect our judgement in business,
but in business we don’t only have just our welfare to consider but also that of our business and potentially employees.

And so this is where it gets tricky, running your business successfully and ethically is not always easy. What may be best for the
business may not be what is best for other groups of people, and while actions taken in the interests of a business may not be
against any laws it may still not be the "right thing" to do. And that is the decision you have to make, the choice that is best for your
business or the choice that is best for someone else.

The trick is to find a balance, no one expects you or your business to take actions that would be massively detrimental
to your own wellbeing, but to take the effects of your choices on other people into consideration and to make allowances
where possible.

We all may want to run our businesses ethically, but what is the best way to introduce ethics into your business?...

Have ethics!

Write a code of ethics, you may have strong ethical values, but unless you make some effort to ensure your business and its employees
are aware of your businesses ethical stance it is likely each person will rely on their own judgement and what they deem to be ethical may not
be the same as what you deem to be ethical.

Lead by example

As the man / woman in charge, it’s important that you act ethically and lead by example. If you show your staff that it is ok
to act unethically it is more likely that they will follow suit.

Promote good ethics

While it’s important to be ethical for the right reasons, making people aware that you are an ethical company is important too.
Advertising campaigns, stationary, a "motto" or tag line that emphasises your ethical stance and the general ethos within your business all add up to show you’re an ethically
responsible company and will help to make people aware of such.

Ethics in life and ethics in business are not the same. In life, if faced with an ethical choice many of us would like to think we
would do the right thing, but in business the right thing may not always be clear as a businesses objectives and peoples ethical objectives do not always match. This doesn’t mean that’s it’s impossible to have a profitable and ethically responsible business, it may just take
a little more effort.


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