Have you ever wondered how many of the successful business get caught in the public spotlight and are criticised for the lack of integrity in the organization.
Clearly culture counts and it starts at the top with senior management or the board of directors. Organizations need to understand that compliance with influences or rules created outside doesn’t drive ethics it should be the opposite, ethics driving compliance in the organization and the leadership in the organization is responsible for setting the tone.
There are different levels of ethical issues; there is workplace fraud and corruption, sometimes conducted at the highest levels of the organization, and ethical issues relating to how employee and customer relations are handled.
Checks and balances require care in how the organization structure is designed, how human resource decisions are made, and how overall business is conducted. It needs to be recognized that this is a very time consuming process and organization integrity is paramount; when difficult decisions are faced the instinct must be to default to core values.
Too often larger organizations pressure smaller business for concessions they can ill afford but if they don’t concede an entire contract may be lost. This happens even if the original pricing were agreed between the parties when the contract was signed. Where is the pride in living up to one’s word? What values are at the core of that behaviour?
Ethics are derived from values and they make integrity a way of life in the organization. Honesty, respect, and responsibility can be pillars on which to build. It is essential that these values are shared throughout the organization through constant dialogue and through practice in decision making.
Corporate governance is used to promote business ethics and social responsibility. It also creates the framework for guidelines used by all individuals who are part of the organization. Fairness is one of the very basic business ethics concepts as it covers how the organization treats people in its commercial dealings.
The vast majority of businesses are ethical and at least have informal standards expressed through the behaviour of the CEO and senior managers. Anyone working in an organization that seems to behave in an overtly unethical way and chooses to stay or ignore the behaviour is part of the problem.