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Doing the Right Thing – 7 Guidelines to Promote Ethical Conduct in Business

Good ethical conduct in the workplace indicates that employees take pride in their company’s ethical standards and have respect for other employees, customers, suppliers, and partners. It also includes professional conduct, business etiquette and an understanding of the importance for each employee to represent their company’s brand in a positive manner. Ethical behaviour in the workplace is defined as “the moral code that guides the behaviour of employees with respect to what is right and wrong in regard to conduct and decision making. Ethical decision making in the workplace takes into account the individual employee’s best interest and also takes into account the best interest of those impacted” according to the Work Institute.

7 Guidelines to Promote Ethical Conduct in your Business

Working and doing business inside the boundaries of the law is not always the same thing as doing the “right” thing, meaning behaving ethically within the moral standards of the business. In today’s world, with all the corruption, the lines have become somewhat blurred, and more and more people demand a transparent, honest, and decent brand, product, service, employee, supplier, customer etc., from the business world.  

Ethical Conduct should be present in both the individual employee as well as the organisation as a unit because it influences how the outside world, be it customers or other stakeholders, view the business. The Business’s ethical conduct not only enhances respect for the brand but also increases the business’s trustworthiness which helps with reoccurring business and in addition, attracts quality job seekers. 

Let’s highlight 7 guidelines to promote ethical conduct in business:

1.     Develop and Communicate the Company’s Ethical Code of Conduct

Do the right thing from the word go by establishing the rules. It is vital that everyone know what the desired moral standards of a company are. People need to know the boundaries. This helps to get suppliers, employees, management, customers etc., onto the same page on how the company would like to conduct its business operations.  

2.     Employ the right people

Your managers, employees and suppliers become the face of your company’s brand. If they are corrupt, people will assume the same of the company. Take some good advice from Warren Buffet: “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And, if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”  

3.     Educate and equip your management and staff

Sometimes, the reason for an absence of ethical behaviour might indicate that it has never been taught. Equip your management and staff with the know-how of what the right thing to do is. They need to know what and why it is important. During The Mindspa Institute’s Ethical Conduct in a Business Environment training course, employees will learn the hidden value – and priceless potential – of ethics and etiquette and how it can make a difference to their career success and your business.

4.     Set a good example

Be an ethical role model. Lead your team and your company by setting a good example on how to behave ethically. Make sure everyone is treated equally under the same set of ethical rules and be strict in enforcing them throughout the company. This will, in turn, help you create a reputation as an ethical leader, supplier or employer which will attract better quality employees, and more loyal customers.

5.      Enforce consequences for unethical behaviour

Firstly, ensure that there is a correct, easy, and private procedure to follow when reporting unethical behaviour. Also, encourage people to report wrong behaviour. Secondly, make sure you have objective people with integrity that will investigate situations thoroughly but fairly. Then, thirdly, don’t be reluctant to enforce the consequences. Unethical behaviour should always pay the penalties to avoid reoccurrence. Be consequent and follow through.   

6.     Maintain open communication with all stakeholders 

It is important for everyone involved in your business to understand what you, your company, management, employees and product, service, or brand stand for. Make sure that you encourage open communication.  Your customers, suppliers and employees need to know that you, the leaders you appoint, and your business can be trusted in all you do. This can only be done if everyone involved does business in a transparent way with uncluttered and uncomplicated communication. 

7.     History will repeat if you don’t learn from it

Learn from your own mistakes and slip-ups made by your customers, employees, management etc. This will give you a pretty good “manual “on how to remain ethical and will guide you on what is expected. When you observe and try not to make the same blunders, you can navigate your company more successfully through ethical circumstances. 

“Ethics or simple honesty is the building blocks upon which our whole society is based, and business is a part of our society, and it’s integral to the practice of being able to conduct business, that you have a set of honest standards,” said Kerry Stokes. In the end, you want to improve the workplace, workforce, and business brand. Therefore, it is always good to keep changing your ethical code of conduct according to the current needs and wants of the environment and people involved in the business. Actions matter more than words and by maintaining open and effective communication along with giving staff the proper training, and penalising those who don’t abide, you will be able to achieve ethical conduct.