Business Ethics 101: Enforcing Ethics in Your Business

Business group

A number of people, both consumers and employees, harbor a distrust of corporations and businesses in general. This is because, in the past, corporations have engaged in shady behavior and activities that show a prioritization of profits over people and ethics. If you are a business owner who wishes to avoid such a reputation or simply wants to make sure that your business is only engaging in the most ethical practices, it is adamant that you enforce ethics within your business. While this might seem vague, there are some steps you can take that will ensure ethical practices within your business. 

1. Define your ethical statement: It is easy to simply state that you wish to have your business engage in ethical practices but this will be difficult if you do not have an ethical statement. This should be tied into your overall business mission statement to drive home the point. If your business is into apparel manufacturing, for example, your business mission statement should be to manufacture the best possible apparel by making use of the most ethically-sourced material and making use of fair labor practices. This sends a clear message to all stakeholders that your business takes ethical practices very seriously and that it is a part of your core belief system. 

2. Review your business practices to ensure ethical behavior: While defining your business’s ethical statement is a step in the right direction, it is not the only step that should be taken. Beyond a broad statement, it is important that you review your business practices and put smaller practices in place to make sure that your ethical beliefs are being enforced. For example, if your business is into apparel manufacturing, you should enforce practices such as only purchasing materials from suppliers that are known to source their materials ethically or only hiring labor based on existing government regulations. This will not only help you stay in line with your ethical beliefs but will boost your business’s reputation and help you avoid being on the wrong side of the law. 

3. Punish any deviations: While applying ethical business practices to your business is a major way to enforce ethics in your practice, you should also take steps to punish any deviations within your organization. These punishments can range from queries or suspensions of employees found breaking rules to even termination of employees. In a number of cases, your business will have more of a reputation boost from heavily punishing deviations from ethical practices than the practices that are already in place. 

4. Change with the times: As time goes on, more and more ethical practices will be adopted within and outside your industry and it is up to you to keep up with them. An example of this is the food industry deliberately reducing their use of single-use plastic. When changes occur within your industry with regard to ethical practices, you should adopt them as soon as possible. 

Implementing ethical practices to your business is more important than ever in the 21st century and can be done in a few steps such as those above.