Today I want to address ethics one more time, and then we’ll give it a rest for a while. How you treat your employees is imperative, and how your employees regard you as an organisation is important as well. But have you ever given any thought to how your employees and organisation, together, treat the rest of the world as a whole?
Anyone not directly associated with your company should be treated with some level of respect. These people may include your actual clients, board members, brokers and suppliers, and even your competitors. This means making reasonable business decisions without succumbing to negative influence.
Let’s look at an example. Perhaps you are the person within your organisation in charge of ordering supplies. You’ve asked two major widget suppliers to give their best quotes. Company A has quoted a very reasonable price. Company B has quoted a price that is a few pounds higher, and the sales representative, upon realizing you might have a better quote, calls and offers you two tickets to the ballet. Both companies have impeccable reputations and provide excellent customer service. It’s your anniversary weekend, and tickets to the ballet would be the perfect gift for your significant other.
Which company will you go with? Technically, Company A has provided you with the best price and will continue to do so in the future. While those ballet tickets may seem appealing, Company B is merely offering you a bribe. If you take those tickets, you may feel obligated to choose Company B even though they won’t be the best for your organisation in the long run. Choosing Company B solely because of the ballet tickets would be considered unethical.
Other examples of how unethical behavior impacts business within the economy include the high costs of pharmaceuticals due to “research,” the inability of financial institutions to report correct numbers to the public, and business in foreign countries regularly (and legally) operating on systems that thrive on bribes.
How you view the rest of the world will show in your work and customer service. Make sure that your new managers receive the coaching necessary to identify and deal with unethical situations. Working as ethically as possible will keep your company off of the front page of the newspapers.
Originally published: 24 September, 2008
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