Ethics Matter!

We see it all around us every day…falsifying business records, lying under oath, submitting undocumented business expenses with no receipts, taking money from government programs with only sketchy justification, insider trading.  It makes you kind of numb after a while.

Do ethics matter in business?

YES! Consumers and trade customers pay keen attention to how businesses operate, and in particular, they evaluate how they treat their customers and their employees. According to one consumer study, two thirds of shoppers prefer to buy from socially responsible companies.

Most public companies have a requirement for all employees to complete an annual refresher course on ethics, often online with a test to measure understanding of the principles. But it is how companies and their leaders behave that truly demonstrates their adherence to high ethical standards. Actions, not words or “check the box” mechanical exercises.

A blog post in the Harvard Business School online in 2023 says it well. Leaders with a strong moral and ethical compass focus on three bottom line outcomes: profit, people, and the planet.

As a leader, you will be faced with many decisions where there may be “gray areas,” and those are opportunities to do the right thing. Those decisions will increase your enterprise value each time you make the right call. Be transparent, and then stick to your published guidelines. No fudging or bending the rules just to win that major new client. Your credibility is on the line, and trust is earned or lost. Plus, your employees watch behaviors and decisions where you must model taking the high road. Both customers and employees respect and trust leaders who do not waver when faced with tough decisions: those who are fair and rely on clear, factual justification. This is true for sales and marketing, corporate governance, and human resources.

It can be beneficial to include others in decision making so they can see how to deal with ethical situations and thus increase the likelihood they will adhere to the same high standards. The higher the stakes, the more important it is to do the right thing for all parties involved. Profitable and enduring contracts that provide value result from those tough but fair negotiations. It is often addressing both “what can we do” as well as “what should we do” that gets to a good outcome.

To become an employer of choice, and attract and retain the best and brightest, ethics play a central role. Your reputation depends on treating employees fairly, particularly when making decisions on terminations. Those are difficult decisions, as you impact the lives of families. You must have appropriate documentation in hand or face possible wrong termination lawsuits. And you cannot “look the other way” on travel or entertainment expenses—even for your top performing sales exec. Stick with your published policies and apply them consistently.

Experience is a great teacher when it comes to displaying your responsibility to customers and employees. A good practice is sharing those success stories with your teams, those real-world case studies that demonstrate good decisions.

Increasingly, social responsibility plays a big role in both brand and company value. Millennials are very likely to shift their business to those companies that are leaders in sustainability and environmental responsibility. It is not the time to kick the can down the road. The planet is a fragile place these days. Ethics and transparency are in play here in a big way.

Our advice is to step back and take a close look at your actions and results over the past year or two. And then score yourself taking note of those opportunities missed, and then put in place tighter procedures and practices to guide you going forward.

At Damen Jackson, we have the benefit of 25 years of working with almost 800 clients to help your brand thrive by making fact-based, non-discriminatory decisions that boost your business. We can be the partner that works through challenging times with you so that you can avoid controversy.

Our fresh eyes are there to supplement and augment the experience of your leadership team, while multiplying the odds of improving revenue growth or generating new sources of competitive advantage.

Let’s get some great work done!

Take the first step to a more successful business today.

  1. CLICK HERE to schedule a free 30-minute discussion. No pressure – we promise.
  2. We’ll provide real-world case studies showing the process in action.
  3. If we’re a fit, we finalize details and get started.

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