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  • Business ethics: What are they and why do they matter?

Business ethics: What are they and why do they matter?

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Ethics play a critical role in helping us differentiate right from wrong. They guide us toward choices that not only benefit us, but the people around us as well. With businesses having the power to shape economies and impact society, it's important for them to consider ethical implications when making crucial decisions. Businesses must ensure that, in addition to boosting revenue, their actions positively influence the wider community.

What are business ethics? 

Business ethics are the moral policies and values that determine how a business conducts itself. In the simplest sense, business ethics help organisations make fair decisions, even if there are more profitable options on the table. They help set the foundation for how a business should act when faced with ethical issues and complicated situations.

Why are business ethics important? 

There are several reasons why business ethics are important. They help you:

Maintain harmony 

To run a successful business, it's essential to maintain a working environment where employees interact positively. The best way to achieve this is by setting ethical standards that guide behaviour in the workplace. When employees are aware that there are certain ethical guidelines your business follows, they are less likely to engage in conversations and behaviours that create conflicts and deviate from company values. This helps businesses foster a sense of mutual respect in the workplace and improve overall productivity.

Build trust with customers 

Customers tend to trust businesses that have a reputation for following ethical practices. It's natural for people to be committed to organisations that consider the welfare of others over their profits. Prioritising ethical practices in your business can improve customer loyalty and lead to positive word of mouth for your business.

Reduce legal risks 

When a business follows ethical principles, it's more likely to comply with existing laws and regulations. This, in turn, minimises the likelihood that it will violate any crucial laws. For example, when your business establishes clear and strict rules on workplace discrimination towards a particular gender or ethnicity, you are less likely to face penalties for violating labour laws. 

Help find the right talent 

In the past, high salaries and financial incentives were enough to attract and retain talent. However, there has been a growing demand for positive work environments and company cultures.

Today, employees want to work for organisations that not only offer financial rewards, but also provide a good work-life balance. When employees feel appreciated and supported by their companies, they are more likely to stay loyal. This can lead to higher job satisfaction levels, improved performance, and reduced costs for recruiting new hires.

Although the advantages of business ethics are many, implementing them can be challenging. Here are a few ways you can promote ethical behaviour in your business.

Hire people who lead by example 

The actions of leaders and managers in your organisation can have a significant impact on employee behaviour. When hiring for important roles, it's necessary to look beyond a candidate's technical qualifications and assess their attitude and behaviour. Leaders who promote ethical behaviour can inspire other employees to adhere to company policies and set a positive example for others to follow.

Provide adequate training to employees

 Proper training can help new employees understand the company's expectations and values, and assist them in quickly adjusting to their roles. Training with hypothetical scenarios can help individuals understand what behaviour is and is not acceptable, so they stay aligned with your organisation's values.

Take disciplinary action  

To ensure that ethical standards are maintained in your business, it's necessary to make your employees understand that there are consequences for unethical behaviour. Therefore, it's crucial to establish clear guidelines on how complaints will be investigated and what disciplinary action will be taken against those who violate your policies.

Make it easy to raise complaints 

It's important to create an environment where employees can voice their concerns and communicate with leadership without the fear of being judged or penalised. By allowing your employees to report ethical violations anonymously, you can ensure that issues are not getting buried. This can help resolve employee concerns before they escalate into bigger problems.

Be transparent about your intentions 

Transparency plays a crucial role in building trust and a positive reputation. When you are honest about your business practices, your customers and employees know you care about them. This will make them more likely to remain loyal to your business.

Hire a diverse range of employees 

Hiring individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences helps bring a range of different perspectives to your workplace. This can reduce the risk of discrimination and bias and promote a more inclusive work environment.

We hope this blog helps you understand why business ethics are important and encourages you to promote ethical conduct in your workplace. Are there any more blog topics you'd like us to cover? Let us know in the comments.

Read next: Safe and healthy workplaces: How to handle discrimination and misconduct

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