When people are asked about ethical business practices, most reply with the standard definition:
Business ethics is the study of proper business policies and practices regarding potentially controversial issues, such as corporate governance, insider trading, bribery, discrimination, corporate social responsibility and fiduciary responsibilities.
What many forget to consider is that ethical behavior includes being honest with our customers as well. It’s important to remember that short term profit at the cost of losing a customer in the long run is detrimental to your business or company.
By building a reputation for ethical decisions, you will increase trust among business associates and customers, which ultimately contributes to the bottom line with return business and referral business. Consider the domino effect that one customer can have if they feel they’ve been mistreated and unethically treated.
If you are managing a team or dealing with customers and suppliers outside your company, you are the face of your business or company, and it is your responsibility to consider the ethical impact of each client interaction. If your behavior includes lying to customers, taking unfair advantage of vendors, backroom deals, or other unethical behaviors, you are hurting your company and company goodwill. You may not see an immediate impact, but in the long run, the negative impact will eventually catch up to you. As they say, “what goes around, comes around.”
Also, as a member of a broader community and industry, your actions reflect on everyone. A reputation for telling customers anything they want to hear, regardless of the truth, eventually hurts your business and other businesses around you. Think about the used car industry. Honest car dealers fight against this on a daily basis! It would be a shame to bring this same reputation to your industry, company, or department.
The bottom line is: ethical behavior isn’t merely something “nice to have”, it’s critical for your business and company to succeed. If a solid code of ethics is followed, it’s literally good for business. Make the decision today to reevaluate and recommit to ethical behavior in all aspects of business and customer interaction.