Ethics, Anyone?

Establish a code of ethics to help you and your employees make great, fair judgment calls. Every day we make decisions, large and small, based upon our individual values. To make sure your employees are in line with your values and to guide them to “do the right thing,” create an ethics code for your organization.

List Your Core Operating Values
Limit the list to ten or fewer to ensure that you can remember them and reflect on them daily. Keep them posted as a reminder to you and your staff. Some examples of core operating values held by some companies are: recommending only the services or products the customer truly needs, honestly informing customers about products you stock, invoicing a customer only for the products and service provided, and giving back to the community.

Create a Policy Statement
Define your philosophy on ethical business conduct. Create a statement that includes your operating values and calls for all employees to uphold those values every day in the services they provide for your customers.

Train Your Staff
Review the values you expect your business to display. Discuss performance actions that meet those values. Talk about situations that may challenge those values and how to handle them.

Evaluate How Well Your Procedures Support Your Values
Do your advertising and business documents reflect your values? Charges and policies should be up front, clear, and concise. Your procedures for hiring and disciplining employees, hiring contractors, and working with suppliers should also reflect your code of ethics.

Once you’ve created your organization’s code of ethics, you must hold yourself, employees, vendors, and subcontractors accountable. Behavior upholding company values should be applauded. Behavior that detracts requires further training, guidance, or disciplinary action.

Let your company’s code help you to balance the quest for profit and growth with fair, honest treatment and stellar customer service.

Ethics and Company Culture
How does your company culture reflect your ethics? Consider these results taken from the 2005 National Business Ethics Survey.

  • Fifty-two percent of employees witnessed at least one example of misconduct within the year.
  • While 58 percent of employees surveyed believed their organization had a strong ethical culture, an astounding 42 percent believed their organization’s ethical culture to be weak.
  • Formal ethics programs have some impact on outcomes with less established corporate cultures, but little impact on corporations with strong, established cultures. Outcomes are best in companies whose managers and employees display “certain ethics-related actions” and have accountability policies.

For more information on business ethics, visit the Ethics Resource Center, www.ethics.org.

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