In business, ethics are not always black and white. Sometimes, it’s not easy to see which actions are right and which are wrong. While it’s important to always act within the confines of the law, there are many instances when you may need to make a choice for your business that is based on personal values, morals and ethics.
Ethical Responsibility of Transparency in Business Operations
Being transparent in business means that you should be willing to provide the necessary information to interested parties, including employees, stakeholders, investors, customers, prospects and the media. Hiding information or misrepresenting certain details can lead to unethical behavior.
The ethical responsibility of a business to stakeholders is that the business should be honest about its sales, revenue and profits. Providing stakeholders with a strategic plan for future initiatives also helps to build trust in the organization.
Being transparent with customers and prospects is also an ethical choice. If there is something wrong with a product your business is selling, for example, it’s critical that you inform consumers immediately and recall the product, in addition to offering full refunds. While this may seem like an embarrassing moment for your business, it shows consumers that you value them and their safety and are willing to make things right no matter the cost.
Create an Ethical Culture for Employees
Establishing an ethical company vision and mission and set of core values helps employees to manage their own behavior. It is an ethical responsibility of a business toward employees. When employees know there is a code of conduct to which they should adhere within the company, they are more likely to make choices that align with the ethics of the business. Focusing on tenants such as honesty, dedication, teamwork and commitment can create an ethical culture in the workplace.
For example, if two employees are in a situation where they have made a grave error in an important document, they may be more likely to speak up and take ownership of their mistake if they know that the culture of the business is an honest one. If the company leadership puts importance on ethical choices with truth being an important value, the employees may feel safer knowing that while this mistake may get them into trouble, they should speak up and tell their manager about it anyway.
Pay it Forward in the Community
The ethical responsibilities of a business don’t only affect those who are directly involved with it. It’s important for businesses to take part in community activities. Ethical behavior in the community may involve volunteering time at local shelters or helping to raise funds for local nonprofit operations. Even providing services free of charge to certain groups in the community is a common way to pay it forward.
You don’t need to have a big budget or a big staff to get involved in the community. For example, your small business can sponsor a local children’s sports team for a season or offer to provide a holiday lunch for a community seniors group. Giving a purchasing discount to members of the community for a special occasion is also another option.
Participate in Corporate Social Responsibility for Greater Good
Sometimes, the ethical choice affects much more than the company or the community. Businesses that participate in corporate social responsibility initiatives do so to manage the effects of its operations on the world. This often includes environmental and sustainable initiatives, initiatives based on diversity in the workplace or providing substantial charitable donations to local organizations.
If your business manufactures products, for example, you can ensure that the waste from production is managed appropriately so as not to pollute the local resources. Making a pact to work with local suppliers is another way to ensure that your business acts responsibly in the community.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.