How to incorporate corporate ethics

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Anupama Nair


For the genre of business you do, there’s often competition from other companies. However, what sets your business apart from others is becoming very important, particularly when it comes to being ethical and honest, and integrity. Having a strong work ethics makes a good business sense as all employees would want to work for a company that they are proud of and work with colleagues they know act with integrity. Potential clients are also more likely to select a company which behaves ethically as it provides the added ‘feel-good’ factor to any business transaction.

Here are a few tips for raising the bar and creating a more ethical workplace:

Create a code:

Many professions require us to work to a consistent Code of Practice or Ethical Code and it is common for organizations to identify a set of values to guide how employees work together and engage with customers or society. Strong company values can be really inspiring. For example, the clothing company H&M believes in boosting ‘entrepreneurial spirit,’ while Ikea values ‘togetherness and enthusiasm’. Instead of concentrating on what is prohibited, think about the kind of behaviors you want to promote instead. But remember; one size doesn’t fit all and your code needs to be unique to you.

Engage with your employees and customers

Your colleagues are more likely to interested in any Code of Practice or Ethics Code. You need to carry out some engagement sessions with your colleagues while creating or updating your policies, so everyone can feel a part of the company’s vision and values? This goes for your customers or clients too. You should ask how they would like to see you working more ethically? You may find that you’re already doing so – you’re just not promoting it widely enough.

Reinforce the benefits of the code

Having a strong Code of Conduct is really important. But it needs to be consistent to work well. “They need to be something which is achievable, desirable and which complement the kind of business you do”. However, there’s no point encouraging your workforce to reach tough goals, if it involves compromising their integrity in any way.

Be a good role model

It is necessary to have a strong Code of Conduct. However, it needs to be consistent to work well. They need to be something which is achievable, desirable and which complement the kind of business you do.

A survey carried out by the Chartered Management Institute showed that two-thirds of managers want to be seen as persons with integrity, but over 80 percent of workers did not think their manager set a good example. Sound ethical behavior begins at the top with the leaders in your business – whether they are directors, governors, associates or the Chief Executive. You need to lead by example. If your company has one rule for those in senior positions and another for the rest of your workforce, the company will not succeed.

Train your employees

There’s no point having a Code of Conduct for your workforce if they don’t know what it is or why it’s important. You need to emphasize what’s at risk and what the potential consequences of breaching it could be. It also needs to be really clear how your colleagues can adhere to it. There’s no point having an ethical code of conduct for your workforce if they don’t know what it is or why it’s important.

Promote your ethical behavior

Having a reputation as an ethical employer or supplier can be a great marketing tool when it comes to being an employer of choice or when trying to attract customers who want to deal with companies who have values they admire. You shouldn’t be shy about promoting how your company behaves in an ethical way.

Reward ethical behavior

Your employees are more likely to act with integrity and value honesty in others if their actions are held in high esteem. A good way of promoting the value of following your company’s Code of  Conduct. Unfortunately, the value of ethics is often not realized or understood until something goes wrong, often resulting in reputational damage which can take years to repair and overcome. If something does go wrong, then the only saving grace is that it is an opportunity to change the way you work to prevent it happening again.

Report unethical behavior

An honest culture in any organization will be difficult to manage if your employees don’t have an easy and a private way to report any unethical behavior. There should be an easy way for people to report their concerns, in confidence, without the fear of retaliation. You should also ensure there are people within your workforce who are trained to investigate any complaints.

Move with the times

Our customers, clients and society as a whole will often guide us to run a successful venture. Your Code of Conduct needs to reflect the ever-changing world we live in. It should feel inspiring, rather than a hindrance as ultimately it’s about making your workplace and brand better. It’s wise to include training on your company’s values and ethics in any induction workshops or by holding regular training sessions. These need to include examples and advice about how to uphold the integrity of the firm in certain situations.

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