Business ethics has become and has remained a popular news topic in today’s world thanks to Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Adelphia, et al. We have read and heard about the “waiving of the ethics code or standard” and where compromises were made to ethical standards for business advantages. And now we hear about zero tolerance for unethical behavior. It now seems as though the pendulum is swinging strongly in the direction of zero tolerance for unethical behavior based upon the reactions to ethics misconduct cases across the corporate landscape.
Good business leaders have ethics, character and integrity. To lead and operate an ethical organization, you have to create an environment for your people that allows them to operate in an ethical manner. Here are ten (10) tips from your strategic thinking business coach on how to build an environment of ethical behavior.
Tip #1: Create and adopt a formal written Company Code of Ethics for your business and distribute a copy to all employees.
Tip #2: Create and implement a formal system for reviewing, updating and enforcing the Company Code of Ethics.
Tip #3: Communicate the Company Code of Ethics and provide orientation and training for all employees.
Tip #4: Commit to ongoing training and reinforcement of ethical behavior and require employees to take refresher ethics course.
Tip #5: Lead by example and “walk the talk” of following the adopted Company Code of Ethics.
Tip #6: Reward ethical conduct.
Tip #7: Deal with unethical behavior swiftly, firmly and justly when it occurs. Everyone must be treated in the same fair and impartial manner.
Tip #8: Encourage all employees to take responsibility for their behavior and maintain a strong personal code of ethics.
Tip #9: Appoint an ombudsman or other confidential channel for employees to voice their concerns or report unethical behavior in a confidential manner and without fear of retribution. Appoint a formal committee to consider ethical issues in accordance with the Company Code of Ethics.
Tip #10: Promote zero tolerance for unethical behavior.