A business meeting can involve many stakeholders in your company, including investors, suppliers, partner businesses, employees, regulatory officials and customers. Because people who attend business meetings with you form impressions of your ethical nature, it's important to behave appropriately in each situation. Using professionalism and following your ethical standards will serve you well, especially when there's pressure to make an unethical decision.

Be an Example

You provide a moral example for your staff. The messages you create can be positive, negative or neutral. By communicating positive messages and showing you expect employees to comply with your ethics policy, you will be more successful at building an ethical culture. Alternatively, your employees will just read your ethics policy and comply with it could have mixed results. It's better to model clearly what is expected than to leave employee behavior to chance.

Establish Boundaries

If one employee makes a derogatory or harassing comment about another employee at a meeting, it's important for you to address this type of situation immediately. No employee deserves to be defamed or insulted in front of others. You might have to step into the hallway to speak to the employee and explain how your ethical code was violated. If you set boundaries and provide examples of acceptable communication in business meetings, employees will know what types of teasing or humor are allowed and what kinds of comments are not. Ignoring a situation will not solve the problem, and the victimized employee will feel rightly that you've taken no action.

Avoid Dishonesty

At times, you could feel pressured by a business partner to make false claims about a product or to inflate a price. This kind of pressure only stands to hurt your business reputation in the long run. Speak up when a false claim is made about your product; carefully explain the truth about the product in terms that everyone present will understand. If you're pressured to exaggerate a product's value or to charge more than it's worth, you might have to reschedule a negotiation or cancel it. Don't compromise your honesty in business transactions just to make a profit.

Prevent Unauthorized Disclosure

You could be pressed for information that you aren't authorized to give in a business meeting. For example, your company might safeguard private health information or handle government contracts. It's important to know the rules for communicating information to different parties and to follow those rules in all business meetings. An unauthorized disclosure could result in civil or criminal penalties for you or your business.