Recently, the topic of corporate ethics has graced the pages of newspapers and magazines all across the country. CEOs of businesses of all sizes are now realizing that the only way to have a successful company is to act and conduct business in an ethical manner.
Ethics should start from the top down in any organization. Being honest and open is the only way to succeed at business. As a CEO or top manager, how can you avoid ethics problems within your business? The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips:
- Bring your highest sense of ethics to your business and lead by example. Demonstrate high ethical standards of behavior toward your customers, suppliers, shareholders, employees and communities in which you do business. Be honest in all your dealings.
- Develop an ethics policy. Make certain that your policy starts at the top level so that company management sets an important example for all employees. Set up training programs that will assist employees in carrying out established ethics policies. Although an ethics policy may not stop unethical behavior, it may give people something to think about and provide a measurement against which to assess their behavior.
- Establish an internal communication system that allows employees to express concerns directly to top management if they suspect wrongdoing or are uncomfortable with current practices. Consider appointing an ombudsman.
- Treat your employees with respect and fairness.
- Reward your employees for ethical decision making and actions.
- Meet with your accounting staff to reinforce the highest reporting and accounting standards and expectations. When the line between doing what is right and what is legal is not clear, move back to what you know is right.
- Know what is going on in your company. Routinely walk around and talk to your employees directly. Get a feel for what they are doing. Be accessible and interested.