"It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are."
Do you know what your company values are? Are you a business that possesses honesty and integrity? One that respects and does well by its employees, customers and the world-at-large? Do you have a company code of ethics that employees are familiar with? Are employees encouraged and supported in reporting breaches of ethics in the workplace with the security of confidentiality?
If you're not sure how your company stands, or if you don't have the answer to any one of these questions, now might be the time to seriously think about the type of values, ethics and code of behavior your business conveys and promotes.
A number of recent reports show the American consumer is increasingly demanding businesses to be run with honesty, integrity and sound business ethics.
In addition to the reward of being able to sleep soundly with a clear conscience at night, business owners ought to also consider the fact that recent data show proof that over the long-term, it is the ethical business that generally enjoys greater financial success than the "greed before good" establishments. Even college graduates claim they'd take a little less money in their paychecks in exchange for a job with an ethical employer.
Most of us do have good intentions. We try to do "good" and be "good." Upon careful reflection though, and some soul searching, we also need to realize that most of us also have the ability to rationalize our decisions and sometimes stray from our intentions.
If you'd like to find out how your business ethics stack up, complete the following survey. The first part is for business owners/managers; the second part is for employees. Avoid the temptation of answering what you think the answer should be -- rather, answer how you personally and honestly would act or feel in that particular situation. Being dishonest with your survey answers ... wouldn't be very ethical.
Answer the questions below with Agree, Disagree or Not Sure, then follow the link at the end for our take on the correct answer and explanation.
For business owners/managers:
- From the top down, your business is run with honesty, integrity and respect for others.
- You receive a duplicate payment from a customer who doesn't realize he made a double payment. You cash the second check thinking he probably won't notice. If he asks for the money back, you'll just feign ignorance and issue a refund.
- Your product prices are going up January 1. You purposely schedule a customer's automatic shipment for January 1 that should have been in December just so you can charge the higher rates.
- Due to unforeseen circumstances, customer orders become backlogged and customers are demanding their products. You explain to the customers the reason for the backlog, what you are doing to rectify the problem and when the products will be available. You offer customers a full refund if they cannot wait until the products are available.
- A customer makes a complaint about a service provided by one of your agents. This customer is a tiny account and the monies received negligible. When the customer complains a second time and cancels her account, you don't apologize or care because you don't need her money anyway.
- The same priority is given to customers' needs after you have gotten "the sale" as before.
- You're about to close a big sale. The potential customer asks you a question, and if you don't fib, you know you'll lose the sale. You tell the fib and save the sale.
- You pretend to have a prior relationship with a potential client in order to get your foot in the door. What they don't remember won't hurt them.
- Business is suffering, and employees are leaving your sinking ship. You hold a meeting with existing employees and assure them that business is fine and their jobs are secure even though they're not. You certainly don't want to lose anyone else while you're still struggling to stay afloat.
- You haven't gotten around to removing some discontinued products on your shopping cart. Customer are charging their credit cards for these discontinued items, and you take your time letting them know the products are discontinued. You suggest the monies already charged can be used for other product items on your shopping cart.
- You occasionally take home small supply items from the office like pencils and staples.
- You would never pad your company expense account.
- You surf the Net for non-work related matters during work time. Everyone does it.
- Calling in "sick" is okay as long as it's not super-busy at work.
- When your chatty coworker gossips about everyone and anyone in the office, you simply say nothing.
- You make an error and another employee gets blamed. No one would be able to trace the error back to you, but you immediately come forward to take responsibility.
- A company supplier gives you a holiday gift of your favorite gourmet chocolates valued at $50. You accept the gift and enjoy the chocolates.
- A coworker's paycheck in an unsealed envelope is placed on your desk by mistake. No one is around. You resist the temptation to peak and deliver the paycheck to its rightful recipient.
- You go to the restroom and find a $50-dollar bill. Finders keepers, losers weepers.
- The boss is away, and your coworker uses the time to make personal phone calls and play computer games at her workstation. Taking the opposite stance, you "give an honest day's work for an honest day's pay."
Click here for Business Ethics Survey Answers and Explanations
Consider Creating a Code of Ethics
The very act of creating a written Code of Ethics demands that you really think about what ethics drives your decision-making, and the direction you want to go in. It can be a wake-up call not only for employees, but for business owners who may have strayed from making ethical behavior and decisions a top priority. Consider obtaining employee input when creating your company Code of Ethics.
Try to tailor your company Code of Ethics to your particular business and industry. Throughout your Code of Ethics you may want to cite a few examples or common scenarios employees may face. Your Code of Ethics may include but not be limited to the following:
- Your company's values and commitment to ethical behavior
- Ethical and unethical behavior, and guidance on making good decisions
- Conflicts of Interest
- Acceptance of Gifts
- Confidentiality of company information
- Reporting Code of Ethics violations (including method of confidential reporting)
- Written pledge
- Consequences and remedies of breaches of the Code
Reduced turnover and improved employee morale and satisfaction are just a few added bonuses of being a business employees can be proud of. The feeling one gets from doing what's right was simply put by Abraham Lincoln, "When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion."
Copyright 2008, Attard Communications, Inc.