Ethics in business is a hot topic, and making ethical decisions in business can be difficult. How do you make ethical decisions when it comes to your business? You may be tempted to take the easy way out, but is it the right thing to do? Here are some tips on how to make ethical decisions in business.
Just What is Business Ethics, or Just What is Ethics?
Ethics is the branch of philosophy that addresses questions about right and wrong behavior. It is concerned with questions like: What is the meaning of life? What are the moral principles by which we should live our lives? What are our obligations to others? Ethics also considers questions about how we should go about fulfilling our moral obligations.
There are many different schools of thought in ethics, and the definition of right and wrong can vary from person to person. But at its core, ethics is a way of thinking about how we should behave in order to live a good life.
Define What Ethics Mean To You
Ethics can be defined in a variety of ways, but for the purpose of business, ethics will be defined as the principles and values that guide a company’s actions. We all know that businesses don’t take action, but the people who run the business do. Ethics may be defined at the organizational level, but they are manifest by the leaders, managers, and front-line employees.
These principles and values can come from a variety of sources, including religious beliefs, personal experiences, or learned from others. Ethics can also be described as a way of life – something that one strives to live by each and every day. Whether or not one agrees with all of the principles and values contained within an ethical system is irrelevant; what is important is that individuals adhere to them regardless of their personal beliefs.
Start by Defining Your Values
I would suggest that the best place to start when defining what ethics means to you is to define your values.
When it comes to business ethics, it is important to first understand what your personal values are. Without knowing what your core values are, it will be difficult to determine whether or not a particular business practice aligns with them.
Once you have a good understanding of your personal values, you can start to think about how those values might apply to the business world. For instance, if you value honesty and transparency in all aspects of your life, then you would likely expect the same from the businesses that you do business with.
Identify Your Priorities
When it comes to business ethics, identifying your priorities is important. Identifying what is more important to you- the bottom line or upholding ethical principles- can help you make better decisions when it comes to business practices.
For example, if upholding ethical principles is more important to you, then you may choose to operate your business in a way that is less profitable in order to maintain high standards of ethics. Conversely, if the bottom line is more important, then sacrificing ethical principles may be an option for you.
For me, people and relationships are more important than money. So people will always take priority of profits when I am faced with an either/or decision. Those people can be my employees, clients, or even my vendors. Yes, my vendors. Even the guy selling me paint from a company that has to answer to shareholders deserves to be treated fairly and with dignity. By no means am I suggesting that you don’t negotiate favorable terms, but I am suggesting that there is a way to do ethically.
For me, people and relationships are more important than money.
Business Ethics in Different Areas of Your Company
Different areas of a business have different ethical guidelines that must be followed. These guidelines may include not using false or misleading information.
Ethics in Advertising
These guidelines may include not making outlandish claims and a commitment to advertise honestly.
A code of Ethics in Sales may include
A code of ethics for sales may include maintaining trust, honesty, and integrity. Salespeople should also be truthful about their products and services, act with discretion, and avoid conflicts of interest. Under-promising and over-delivering is a great example of selling ethically.
Ethics in Service
A code of ethics in service may include a commitment to honesty, integrity, and fair play. In the home improvement world, this could mean being honest about warranty claims, owning product and workmanship failures, and ensuring the homeowner and company are treated fairly.
Ethics in Human Resources
A code of ethics in human resources may include prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and bullying. It may also mean that employees are disciplined fairly according to a progressive disciplinary plan. Your employees will feel safe knowing they will be treated fairly. Additionally, it could mean that those who perform well are rewarded for their contributions to the team.
Ethics in Leadership and Management
A code of ethics in leadership or ethics in management may include principles such as honesty, integrity, accountability, and respect for others. These principles help leaders behave in a responsible and ethical manner and build trust with their team.
Identify The Source of Your Decisions
When making decisions in business, it is important to consider the ethical implications of those decisions. In order to make sound business decisions, it is important to understand the source of your decision. The following are some factors that may influence your decision: personal values, organizational values, legal requirements, financial considerations, and public opinion. It is important to weigh all of these factors when making a decision in order to ensure that the decision you make is ethical and meets the needs of both you and your organization.
Consider the Consequences of Your Decisions
The Negative Unintended Consequences of Ethical Business Decisions
There are often negative unintended consequences to business decisions. For example, if you make a decision to reduce costs by shorting your client on what you’ve promised by cutting corners, like watering down paint, you may lose trust with employees. In this case, the business suffers from increased employee turnover and warranty claims. It is important to consider the potential negative consequences of your decisions before making them in order to avoid any negative consequences.
Business ethics is important because it helps to ensure that business decisions are made in a responsible and ethical manner. This can protect both the company and its employees, as well as the public. By following proper business ethics, companies can avoid legal issues and protect their reputations. But even more than their reputation, protecting people should be the most important objective.
The Positive Unintended Consequences of Ethical Business Decisions
There are also often positive unintended consequences to ethical business decisions. For example, when employees see managers making decisions to value people over profits, trust is built. Since trust of the currency of business, your company culture will benefit.
This could lead to increased profits and greater success for the company. In addition, making ethical decisions can also help companies build trust with their customers. By being trustworthy and taking care of their customers’ interests, companies can increase loyalty among their customer base and improve their overall reputation.
Make Ethical Decisions Every Day
When you start by defining your own values, business ethics and making ethical decisions comes naturally. Running an ethical business seems to be more about the small day-to-day decisions that add up over time and less about larger decisions. Yes, large and significant decisions are important, but it’s the little ones that go unnoticed. These add up to weighty habits that run on autopilot making you more or less ethical over time.
Making ethical decisions in business can be difficult, but it’s important to do what’s right. By following these steps, you can make sure that you’re making the best decision for your company, your employees, and your clients.
If you want to learn more about business ethics, I recommend you check out the BBB Partner Code of Conduct | Better Business Bureau® or the BBB Accreditation Standards | Better Business Bureau®.