Are your personal ethics the price of doing business?

I recently came across a situation where it made me think deeply about this question.  Do I separate  my personal ethics from business?

Ethics comes into play in the decisions you make every day. Have you ever received too much money back when you paid for something in a store, didn’t get charged for something you ordered at a restaurant or called in sick to work when you just wanted a day off?  You make your decision about which path to take based on your personal ethics; your actions reflect your own moral beliefs and moral conduct. Your ethics are developed as a result of your family, church, school, community, and other influences that help shape your personal beliefs—that which you believe to be right versus wrong.  A good starting point for your personal ethics is the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That is, treat people the way that you would like to be treated. You would like people to be honest with you, so be honest with others.

But compromising your ethics even just once is a slippery slope. The idea is that one thing leads naturally to allowing another until you find yourself sliding rapidly downhill. Ethics is all about the art of navigating the slippery slope: you have to draw a line for yourself, decide what you will and won’t do—and then stick to it. If you don’t have a strong set of ethics, you have nothing to use as a guidepost when you are in a situation that challenges you morally. A highly developed set of personal ethics should guide your actions. The only way to develop a strong sense of ethics is to do what you believe in, to take actions consistent with your principles time and time again.

Excerpt taken from Business Ethics: The Power of Doing the Right Thing

Several factors play a role in the success of a company that are beyond the scope of financial statements alone. Organisational culture, management philosophy and ethics in business each have an impact on how well a business performs in the long term. No matter the size, industry or level of profitability of an organisation, business ethics are one of the most important aspects of long-term success.

Ethics in Leadership

The management team sets the tone for how the entire company runs on a day-to-day basis. When the prevailing management philosophy is based on ethical practices and behaviour, leaders within an organisation can direct employees by example and guide them in making decisions that are not only beneficial to them as individuals, but also to the organisation as a whole. Building on a foundation of ethical behaviour helps create long-lasting positive effects for a company, including the ability to attract and retain highly talented individuals and building and maintaining a positive reputation within the community. Running a business in a ethical manner from the top down builds a stronger bond between individuals on the management team, further creating stability within the company.

Employee Ethics

When management is leading an organisation in an ethical manner, employees follow in those footsteps. Employees make better decisions in less time with business ethics as a guiding principle; this increases productivity and overall employee morale. When employees complete work in a way that is based on honesty and integrity, the whole organisation benefits. Employees who work for a corporation that demands a high standard of business ethics in all facets of operations are more likely to perform their job duties at a higher level and are also more inclined to stay loyal to that organisation.

Business Ethics Benefits

The importance of business ethics reaches far beyond employee loyalty and morale or the strength of a management team bond. As with all business initiatives, the ethical operation of a company is directly related to profitability in both the short and long term. The reputation of a business from the surrounding community, other businesses and individual investors is paramount in determining whether a company is a worthwhile investment. If a company’s reputation is less than perfect based on the perception that it does not operate ethically, investors are less inclined to buy stock or otherwise support its operations.

With consistent ethical behaviour comes increasingly positive public image, and there are few other considerations as important to potential investors and current shareholders. To retain a positive image, businesses must be committed to operating on an ethical foundation as it relates to the treatment of employees, respect to the surrounding environment and fair market practices in terms of price and consumer treatment.

Excerpt taken from Why are business ethics important?

We would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.  Is the bottom line a dollar value, or do you have a strong set of ethics that you build your business on?
Do you have any situations, that you can share with us, about how you were ethically challenged in business?

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