Is your “dream” company one where your customers are lined up wanting to buy from you, recommending your product or service to others? Is it one where your employees are always cheerful, enthusiastic, and continually exceeding expectations? Is it one where your company revenues and profits are consistently above your competitors? Sure it is, but how do you get there?
Ethical and Social Responsibilities
The best way to run a worry-free business is to operate in an ethical manner. As Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” In that respect, it takes more effort to run a fraudulent company than it does to run an ethical one. It’s important that you practice good business ethics; most customers can sense integrity without seeing any direct evidence of it.
You also need to realize that you have an obligation that goes above and beyond any legal requirements or short-term profit motives. You should manage your business to produce a positive impact on society. When you do so, you are being socially responsible.
There is clearly an overlap between business ethics and corporate social responsibility because all socially responsible companies must also act ethically. The difference is that ethics concerns individual actions and corporate social responsibility takes into account all the “stakeholders” of your company, not just your stockholders.
Identify Your Stakeholders
Who are the “stakeholders?” A stakeholder is any individual or organization that is affected by the activities of your business. This will include the owners of your business as well as your managers, employees, customers, suppliers, bankers, trade unions, environmental & special interests groups, etc. Each stakeholder will have a different viewpoint of your company obligations to them.
- Your Stockholders/Owners look for a good return on their investment
- Your Employees look for fair pay and working conditions
- Your Suppliers look for regular, consistent business and prompt payment
- Your Customers look for a fair price, and a safe product that performs as expected
- Your Local Community looks for job opportunities with minimal disruption
- Your Government looks for employment opportunities in your local community and timely tax payments
- Your Environmental & Special Interest groups look for less pollution
Take a look around your business and try to imagine how your stakeholders view your company. If you need improvement, here are 7 practices to help make your business more trustworthy and respectable:
Honesty is the Best Policy. Nothing can ruin your business reputation quicker than dishonesty. People recognize and appreciate honesty and integrity. There’s no trait more honorable than honesty.
Institute Fair Business Practices. Whether it pertains to marketing, policies concerning employee treatment, or even the description of your services online, you must institute and observe fair business practices. If you are dedicated to observing fair business practices, you’ll eHampton Roadsoy a healthy reputation and word-of-mouth marketing will work to your advantage.
Take Care of Your Employees. Ethical and responsible business owners take care of their employees, ensuring that they’re treated well, paid fairly, and rewarded with reasonable benefits and incentives.
Always Consider the Well-Being of Others. While you must make decisions that will bring a profit to your business, you should also take into account how your decisions impact others. When taking action, think of how your choices will affect everyone involved, either directly or indirectly: clients, employees, members of the community, local business owners, and yes, your family members as well.
Respect Others, Even the Competition. There’s something to be said for showing everyone respect regardless of who it is and whether or not they deserve it. It speaks volumes of your character. The way you treat people is a reflection of the kind of work you do.
Participate in Your Community. Become an active member of your community and you’ll learn how to best contribute to its betterment and growth. And when you give to the community you’ll find that it often gives right back.
Choose a Nonprofit or Other Organization to Partner With. This may be your toughest decision, considering all the option out there: children, the environment, senior citizens, homeless people, people with disabilities–the list goes on. You might want to consider a cause that fits in with your products or services. Another way to narrow the field is by considering not only causes you feel strongly about, but also those that your customers consider significant. Get to know the group, and make sure it’s sound, upstanding, geographically convenient and willing to cooperate with you in developing a partnership.
It’s important that you consider whether or not you run an ethical and socially responsible business. This may be difficult for you to do objectively on your own and could require outside, independent assistance. When you observe ethical and responsible standards, those you associate with will sense your integrity, a characteristic that potential customers are looking for and appreciate. Once you establish yourself as an ethical, responsible business owner, you’ll be on your way to building a solid reputation. And often a good reputation is a form of marketing that you just can’t pay for.
Performance Advisors can perform a Social Audit of your business to measure your business performance and suggest ways you can improve on your ethical and social responsibilities.