An Ethical Checklist For Business

In business when we purchase goods or services we expect, as a matter of course, that the supplier will have acted ethically in providing our purchase to the highest possible standard. Similarly when we work with colleagues or representatives of other organisations we expect them to be professional and to act in an ethical manner at all times.

But what makes for an ethical approach and what is to be included and what is to be left out? Possibly the framework below might offer some clues and a way forward.

  • What are our Ethical Norms? We should do no harm with our product or service and operate in a fair and even-handed manner. We might also want to build relationships and enhance, wherever possible, customer relationships and consumer confidence in what we do.
  • Ethical Value – Honesty. Making sure that we are truthful at all times and making sure that our advertising material says what the product will actually do. We should also stand behind our products and offer remedies if they fail.
  • Ethical Value – Responsibility. Meeting the needs of our customers and recognising the social obligations to all stakeholders as we generate sales revenues. Recognising a commitment to vulnerable groups who are using our goods or services and acting in an environmentally-sound manner at all times.
  • Ethical Value – Fairness. Present our offer in a reasonable and clear manner without any false or misleading claims that entice in customers who will ultimately not be satisfied with our goods.
  • Ethical Value – Respect. The process of valuing differences and avoiding making stereotyping decisions or assumptions and listening to the voice of the customer even if this means some difficulties and problems have to be faced and dealt with. Recognising the contributions of others and treating everyone in the way we would want to be treated.
  • Ethical Value – Transparency. Being open and communicating very clearly at all times and encouraging constructive criticism on our goods and services to improve what we are offering. Explaining and dealing with product or service failures in a speedy, efficient and transparent manner.
  • Ethical Value – Community. Protecting all customers from harm and operating in a responsible manner regarding the environment, contributing to recycling initiatives and contributing to local/regional/national good causes.

Deciding on the Ethical Values and their content is a very individual exercise for every business but whatever form it takes buyers and others accessing your offer will increasingly expect a commitment to measurable ethics. Companies and organisations with scant regard to ethical issues and considerations will increasingly find they have access to progressively smaller markets and increasingly difficult trading conditions.

Good Luck!

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