In this day and age it is perhaps timely to touch on business ethics and social responsibility. Have you ever heard someone who is making what could be a contentious decision, often excuse it by saying, ‘nothing personal, it’s just business’.
My answer to this is, that business is overwhelming personal!
Just ask the many clients who take spending their consumer dollar personally. If you get this wrong, you can bet they will tell others! This then can impact on your business.
Just ask your employees; the way you treat them and how you reward them is very personal. Just ask people who have been made redundant how this changes their and their families lives and you will get a personal answer.
Even ask your suppliers! They too have families to support and obligations to meet. Business decisions actually affect real people!
Why then do so many businesses have trouble with their decision making?
My first rule of thumb is if you would be embarrassed for your Mum, Dad, or friends to find out what you have done, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it. This idea contributes to our understanding of a moral compass. All sorts of things from growing up, culture, religious teachings, and education impact on a person’s moral compass. The tricky part as an employer, is getting all of our staff to internalise and then act in a manner that is how we want them to act on our behalf.
The following link outlines some interesting starter points to understand business ethics better. It will provide a framework to start discussing what you want your employees to think about when making decisions in your company name.
It is important to have these conversations so your expectations are clear. You can then communicate your expectations (values) to your stakeholders so they also know who they are doing business with.