These days there is a lot of talk about whether a business is ethical or not – and rightly so. But how does the consumer, or business owner, define ethical?
Being ethical is not the same thing as being lawful. It is also about running your business in a way that is morally correct. This is because it is possible for a business to be doing everything legally but still be unethical morally. However, since ethical behavior almost always translates into good business sense, these days it is the moral duty of businesses to work according to a code of ethics – thereby making them more appealing to consumers at the same time.
Tips on being an ethical business
So, are you ready to run an ethical business? Let’s get started!
Here are some ways in which a business can act ethically:
1. Being ethical with customers
A customer is the backbone of any business and should always be treated ethically.
- Never lie to your customers even if you are telling them exactly what they want to hear. Exaggerating the truth in order to make a sale may not be illegal but is unethical.
- Never advertise something that is not true. If a company has made some promises in their advertisements, they should always try and live up to these promises.
- Selling damaged merchandise to customers is another example of being unethical.
- Price your products fairly and do not overcharge if you have a monopoly of a certain product. Do not take advantage if there is a shortage of a certain item and customers are willing to pay more for it.
- When handling checks or cash from customers and if they have mistakenly paid more, always bring that to their attention instead of pocketing the excess money.
2. Being ethical as an employee
As a business employee, it is important to be ethical to the business that you work for.
- Do not try and negotiate good deals or special prices for friends or family members if you are in a position to do so, unless you have specific permission for the same.
- Always work diligently and do not while away the hours with unnecessary actions. Make sure you put in the required number of hours at work even if your time is not being monitored.
- Do not accept any kind of gifts from suppliers or business vendors unless you have been told it is acceptable.
- Never take any supplies or office inventory home even if it is designated as waste.
3. Being ethical to the community
Businesses should always try and be ethical towards the community that they serve. For instance, if you have a food outlet in a busy mall, you should make sure that you do not occupy common areas that could inconvenience the visitors at the mall. Make sure your waste is disposed off in the right manner and is not dumped anywhere. On a larger scale, it is also important to look into where your products are coming from and who they are made by. Making a profit on the back of sweatshops in Asia for example would be considered unethical and many businesses today, even large corporations, are having to follow their supply chain all the way to source to make sure they are acting morally in how they bring their products to market. If you want to be truly ethical to the global community and not just your local community, then you should do this too.
Esther is a blogger and journalist who lives in Chicago and writes about small business, contracting and the law. She wrotes about all things business, from contractor tax to how to find a good Chicago personal injury lawyer.