ETHICS – You read about it in the papers; you hear about it on the evening news; it’s plastered on industry publications and legal journals. Almost everyone is talking about it – almost everywhere you turn, it’s front-page news. The “it” is ethics … and it has quickly become today’s most critical business concern.
If you turn to a dictionary for help, you find definitions such as: “a system of moral principles or values; the rules or standards governing the conduct of the members of a profession; accepted principles of right and wrong.”
Our grandparents, and generations before them, would probably be amused (and disturbed) by the fact that we now create departments, appoint officers, and even write books – all to make sure we do what they knew as the only way to do business … thenatural way to behave. But then, they didn’t face the same intense workplace and career pressures that lead to temptations of stretching the truth, trading quality for expediency, managing by exploiting “loopholes,” and chasing short-term, end-justifies-the-means, quick profit.
The good news is that most businesses, and most people that work in them, are doing right, fair, honest things every day. And that’s how it needs to be – that’s where YOU need to be – because the risks are great for doing otherwise. The reality is your reputation and your organization’s is at stake.In the business world, reputation is everything. Fact is, your success hinges on it. Customers have choices. They research and compare vendors. And they do business with reputable organizations. Commit one ethical faux pas – which will overshadow scores of previous good actions – and you’ll watch your customers go elsewhere.
Your job is at stake. If your business loses business, there’s less of a need to keep you around. Whatever job protection you may have had becomes non-existent. And, with today’s increased sensitivity and focus on business practices – combined with the need for organizations to protect themselves – ethics violations can result in job loss. That’s precisely why you should care about ethics. Whether or not you have an ethicsdepartment, or compliance officers, or a “code of conduct,” the ethical make-up of your business begins and ends with YOU … and all the other “you’s” with whom you work. The actions you take, the decisions you make, and the daily behaviors you exhibit – whether big or seemingly insignificant – are ultimately how you and your organization will be judged.
One of VIA’s three topics for our Connecting to Success curriculum is ethics. While the rest of the curriculum is rich in needed guidance, teaching the concept of how imperative it is to understand the importance of ethicsand how it affects every part of your life to the high school juniors in our valley is the most valuable part of the program. When it comes to ethics, everyone is responsible.