As a business owner, of course, your bottom line profits if hugely important. But running a company should be about more than this; you should also be striving to treat employee fairly, champion causes you care about and ultimately make the world a better place – even if it is only in a small way.
What constitutes an ethical business really varies from person to person, but here we will look at three general ways that you can ensure your company has a better reputation in this regard. Running an ethical business is also good for your overall business image, giving you something to shout about rather than a potential negative publicity story which could come up somewhere down the line.
Make Your Expectations Clear
First and foremost, you need to make all your expectations clear to everyone who works for the business, as well as your suppliers and clients. A good starting point is to write everything down as this will help to clarify everything in your own mind as well as giving you a solid ‘code of conduct’. This should be presented to new staff members and also be readily available to everyone. So, now would be the time to clarify exactly what your expectations are. How are you running a company that prevents bullying and encourages equal opportunities? Do you ensure that all your products are ethically sourced? Have you spoken to an access consultant to make sure that your business is accessible for disabled people? These are just a few examples of questions which are worth answering.
Enforce Your Policies
Once your policies have been all clearly laid out, you then need to take steps to ensure that they are actually enforced. If negative behaviour is tolerated, this will only demonstrate to anyone who comes into contact with your business that you aren’t serious about the guidelines you have put in place. It may be a case of simply taking the person aside who is causing the issue to reinforce to them again how important your ethical policies are to your business. It may be that you have to make difficult choices between increasing your profits in the short-term by breaking your code of conduct. Ultimately, these kind of decisions define what sort of business person you are.
Lead from the Front
Following on from the last point, the best way to show people about your ethical business policies is by practicing what you preach and leading from the front. Employees will turn to their boss for ways in which they are expected to act. Remember, you are responsible for the business culture and environment that you create. When you cut corners ethically, it is much more likely that the people around you will follow suit.
It can be tough at times to combine the worlds of ethics and business, and though there may be short-term losses along the way, it will cost you far more in the long-run to get into bad business habits.