A company that considers good ethics as part of its obligations is more likely to enjoy a more healthy and enriching relationship with its various stakeholders, while getting the nod from both Karma and Mother Earth in the process.
However, in a business universe that seems to reward rampant capitalism and profiteering, is there really any way to build a more ethical corporation that cranks out a healthy ROI while making the world a better place? That’s exactly what we explore in this article – tips to help you build a more ethical business.
- Get your own house in order. There’s a common blood of culture that runs through the veins of every organization – a business will essentially become what it’s workers are. The first step in creating an ethical business is to take on board employees that are not only efficient, but ethical as well. It’s pretty easy to get a vibe on someones attitude to ethics at the interview stage. Additionally, make sure your own company policies lead the way by offering ethical conditions to your employees and customers that stretch comfortably beyond the statutory minimum.
- Have an ethics policy. Make your ethical expectations clear to all your employees. Things you can put in black and white will include basic ethical behavior towards other employees and customers. To make sure this is taken seriously, you can even enforce breach of ethics with specific punishments.
- Do business with ethical suppliers. Not all businesses are the same. Part of running an ethical business will involve awarding contracts only to ethical businesses in your supply network. There are many ethical considerations that you might wish to raise with suppliers before doing business with them. For example, if your supplier is based abroad, perhaps in developing nations such as India or Bangladesh, ask about the conditions provided for their workers. Are they being offered a fair wage and working in comfortable conditions – or would your business be contributing to a horrific slave like workshop? Of course, you’ll want to discuss price and quality with suppliers – but just as you would note the price/quality expectations in a contract, there’s nothing stopping you from including ethical expectations here too.
- Unsure what ethics should mean in business? Look to Ethical Trade for ideas. The ETI base code can help businesses have a better awareness of what basic ethical practices should be observed in business. It covers various issues such as ethics for workers who may indirectly be stakeholders in your business via the supply chain.
- Check out suppliers credentials. It can be a good idea to award contracts to organizations who belong to ethics-aware bodies such as Fairtrade and the Ethical Trading Initiative.
- Consider ethics to the environment. Increasingly, ethical companies are giving greater consideration to the environment and the role they can play in protecting it. Build in environment friendly business policies and practices – this can include taking steps to reduce the carbon footprint left by your staff – for example by encouraging employees to fully power down their computers for the night rather than leaving them on standby, or reducing the amount of non biodegradable packaging used for your products.