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BUSINESS ETHICS – WHY IS IT WORTH IT?
Business Ethics. Nowadays, a crucial aspect of leading a business is introducing clear ethical principles into the organizational culture and implementing them in the strategy, the vision, and the mission of the company in order for workers to identify themselves not only with the company itself but also with its values. But why? Because it’s worth it in many respects.
Today, there was supposed to be a new article on Schulz’s autogenic training. I get down to it for the third time, start writing a couple of sentences, only to immediately delete them and give up.
Maybe Friday makes me feel that I already think about being at home and about the weekend or maybe it is because of our new project for a hospice which supports families with children who are dying; the fact is – it is difficult for me not to think about values.
I keep pondering on all the situations I had with my coworkers and the exercises I had done with them; in this very moment, while I am writing this, I am thinking of: the wheel of life, Maslow’s pyramid, Dilts’s model, the six thinking hats of de Bono, Walt Disney’s method, and I could keep listing many other things for another minute. All these methods were created for a reason. They were created for some need. It is like with a product; if you are making a product no one wants to buy, you eventually need to stop producing it.
The Character Ethic
Not so long ago, there was no need to write books and create methods based on character ethic; people generally lived in line with their conscience and kept a balance between work and personal life. Maybe it was so because life went on “more slowly”, there was less information, and external pressure was not so big.
Stephen R. Covey writes beautifully about the character ethic in his book
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Nowadays, corporations lead schoolings on business ethics. There is probably a need for it, because after years of cunning and deluding clients, now, in the Internet era, the average entrepreneur has finally understood that it does not pay off to play dirty tricks on people, because it may cost them more than simply being honest. Customers – the external group, now has greater influence than ever before when it comes to leaving their mark on companies. The public voice has become very loud.
It had already been said by Immanuel Kant that ethics works and that it is practical; The famous entrepreneur Robert Bosch repeated this message basically by stating: “I would rather lose money than trust”.
But Is It Worth It?
In his book
“ Moral Capitalism: Reconciling Private Interest with the Public Good”,
Statistics do not lie either. For those who are interested, I recommend that you get familiarized with the studies conducted by the Gallup Organization, which summarize the twelve levels of a good company. In Paul Herman’s
The HIP Investor: Make Bigger Profits by Building a Better World,
you will find the measures companies should take to act morally towards their employees, clients, and contractors, as well as other groups. Here is the LINK:
It is interesting and worth remembering that companies with a high rank on the HIP scale make greater profits, so there is something in those values. Maybe it is worth taking a closer look at them?
How Affected – Why is It Not Easy to Be Ethical?
A company’s moral level does not merely depend on its managers or board. It is also affected by other factors, internal, as well as external ones. First of all, by the economic system; capitalism and socialism themselves are very different and are set on very different goals. And the law? How far can a company go in its actions? Next, there is politics…and the political system and the democracy it brings or the lack of it. Finally, we have the ethics of the society, determined by the society’s ethical culture, which limits individuals who are morally weak; this culture also influences the company and its ethics.
Finally, let us take a look at the internal factors. How is the company doing financially? The economic aspect of the company can frequently have a bad influence on its morality. And the mission? We know that it is supposed to be ethical, but honestly, how many companies put forth a humanistic message? A company’s policy is rather seldom strictly focused on ethics; after all, it is supposed to make a profit. Of course, most managers had classes in ethics at college, as well as exams on a cultural organization. In practice, we know that theory is one thing and real life another. And then, we still have the workers, individuals, who also come from different social environments and homes and who have their own moral code. They too have their say in the company’s ethics.
As we can see, there are many factors which cause that a company is seen in a good light; some of them we cannot influence at all, especially the external ones. We can, however, influence the internal ones.
Training Ethical Sensitivity
Maybe before you begin the next schooling, think about what kind of person you are; regardless of your current position, you have an influence on your company’s public image. Thus, if you realize that economic values are more important than saving the company’s face, then something is wrong with the company and its workers; somewhere, there’s a problem.
As proven by M. Kosewski and P. Zimbardo:
“…we people are neither good nor bad, but we simply do good or bad things”.
And if you are an employer…make sure you don’t put your workers in a profit and value.
Any person, even one who has never expected it, in given circumstances, may begin acting highly unethical. I recommend those of you who are interested in this issue to familiarize yourselves with the Milgram experiment from 1961, in which obedience towards authorities was studied. A different study, i.e., Jane Elliott’s “Blue-eyed” experiment, in which the teacher divided her students into two groups according to eye colour, only confirms us in the fact that given circumstances can induce unethical behaviour. The teacher told her students that one of the groups was more important because of their eye colour. The children’s behaviour changed in a single day.
Many factors cause that a company stays on the market for many years and one who thinks that profit is the most vital and only factor is mistaken. An entrepreneur has to make sure that the stakeholders of his company will earn steady profits; just as his workers, clients, contractors, society, neighbours, etc. Of course, making a profit is a crucial factor, because it is hard to lead a company without that. However, it had been proven that ethical activities have an influence on how long a company stays on the market. This is indicated by studies led by the Gallup Organization, which was mentioned earlier in this article, as well as by more and more frequent practical studies led by companies and social organizations.