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Ethical Best Practices – Part Two
“It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
Ethics are worth working on. As a consumer, do you want to do business with McNeil-PPC, Inc., the manufacturer of Tylenol? The company took immediate responsibility when several customers died after using Tylenol that had been tampered with. The company made changes to ensure that tampering wouldn’t happen again. Remember six years ago when the combination of separating Firestone tire treads and Ford Explorer rollovers onto weak roofs caused more than 60 deaths? Firestone took responsibility and replaced all tires pretty quickly at a tremendous financial drain. Ford, on the other hand, initially took no responsibility. Instead, Ford blamed Firestone and repeatedly tried to cover up known manufacturing problems. As a result, Firestone cut off its 100-year long relationship with Ford. There was a conflict of values.
Though these are simplified accounts of complex events, they demonstrate how businesses deal with ethical issues differently.
Here are ways you can provide ongoing ethical best practices for your businesses:
Keep your eye on the ball. As a business owner, you are responsible for the actions of everyone connected with your business. Make sure they know your values. Your business can be more successful if it works with partners, employees and customers with shared values. If you and your business live by your values, you will feel good about what you do and it will affect the bottom line.
- Identify and communicate values. Let everyone know inside and outside your organization what the values and standards are for operating your company. Then be sure to live by them.
- Insist that people take responsibility for actions. First lead by example. Implement consequences for inappropriate actions. If you make mistakes, own up to what you did, others will be more likely to do the same. Covering up mistakes or wrongdoing destroys trust. Once that happens, it is difficult to repair.
- Lead with a moral compass. Expect and deliver integrity in all your interactions. People who act the same when no one is looking as when being watched demonstrate strong character. Actions should not be based on individual situations, but rather on core values.
- Play by the rules. Shortcuts are the fast route leading to dishonesty. Respect, live and work by the rules you make. Doing otherwise communicates that you believe you are more important than others.
- Take action against unethical behavior. Change vendors if they don’t meet your standards. Renounce companies that use child labor to make their products, pollute the environment, mistreat people. Don’t just talk about it; take action, show commitment. An international boycott of companies that invested in South Africa during apartheid is just one example of people and companies standing up for their beliefs. Hitting a target financially can be the impetus that changes the behavior of businesses and even a society.