As children, we were taught right from wrong, good from bad. Then we took those values and modeled ourselves from that internal code of ethics. Over the years we develop and build our personal codes, and organizations should apply that same approach in designing standard ethical guidelines for conducting business.
Enforce the Code from the Top-Down
Leaders have to create and enforce a standard code to have a solid and realistic set of guidelines. Then, they should implement these guidelines throughout the organization. If it starts at the top, the example can trickle down through the organization, creating an ethical business culture. Every employee should be equipped with the knowledge to handle daily moral dilemmas using this code without exceptions or deviations, which is where many organizations’ ethical codes tend to fall apart. Annual employee training also will help enforce the code.
Create Core Values
A well-thought-out corporate mission, vision, and core values statement are important in driving business strategy and creating company values. Senior leadership must regularly and clearly communicate these messages to their team and continuously endorse them. The companies with the highest ethical values win customer trust, gain employee loyalty, and benefit from increased revenue over a sustained period of time.
Value = Ethics
Without a definitive set of guidelines, organizations will inevitability try to boost their bottom line however they can. But don’t ever compromise your values to get ahead. Instead synchronize your values with your plans for the future of your business. If you have a great commitment to values but not the right leadership and strategy, you’re doing a disservice to customers and all other stakeholders. Your emphasis should be on doing both. Ethics is at the core of what makes a business successful.
How do you make your business valuable? How do you implement your company’s code of ethics?
Written by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE
Follow me on Twitter @ima_JeffThomson