It’s the twenty first century and we are far from the days when philosophy was considered unrelated to business. It is in fact an important part of business these days. Practically, every serious person about to start a company today knows they have to settle down and begin with an important part of the foundational work – determining the business code of ethics and company philosophy. It is more like clearly stating what you believe in and are ready to practice or be guided by as you progress with the business. The importance of company ethics and philosophy cannot be over emphasized. Let’s delve into some basics ethical issues in business, beliefs and principles and see how these along with company philosophy do influence business.
Some common ethical norms upheld by most companies and businesses and what they mean to the business
As far as businesses or companies are concerned, ethics stretches beyond personal beliefs and stands on moral norms to broader terms like corporate responsibility or ethics and social responsibility. Therefore, the company, when revising company ethics and philosophy is usually more concerned about the public and their perception of the company than about what happens within the confines of the company. That means the focus is on getting and maintaining the best social image possible. We are going to certainly look at the subject from this broader perspective. However, since corporate social responsibility starts from a personal level, that is, each person within the business committing to upholding simple ethical norms that cut across every business, lets first look into these “smaller” issues and see how they can influence your business.
Timeliness as a business principle and ethical norm is a big word and has two main sides to it. The issue of timeliness with regards to business ethics is not limited to coming early to work or showing up on time for meeting and business appointments. That is one part of it and as important as the other. Every employee is expected to be sensitive to time and orderly enough to always report to work on time.
The other part with regards to the issue of timeliness is meeting deadlines. Businesses work with strict schedule and have to always work hard to meet deadlines. Every business should take the issue of timeliness important as it has a direct impact or influence on business. Timeliness should be one of the most clearly spelt out of all ethical business practices or concepts as far as company ethics and philosophy is concerned.
There is no thriving for a company which does include, and uphold respect as part of its business ethics or enhance it by their philosophy. Companies have to deal with several workers at any given time and in other cases different teams in the form of departments make up a company. In deciding on a company’s code of ethics, it is important to make it clear that respect for each other and for authority plays an important role in accomplishing stated objectives and realizing goals.
Coworkers should understand differences in their levels of responsibility and learn to respect those who are set over them in the company. Superior employees too must learn to regard their subordinates with respect.
Aside from respecting personality in a company, everyone must have respect for the company and the company name or reputation. It is unethical to talk about your company or profession disrespectfully. Disrespecting the company’s name or reputation in any form is completely out of ethical business practices and one of those things which should never be tolerated. Ethical issues in business like this one involve attitudes and character traits that go beyond our business deals to influence even the quality of our personal relationships and achievements.
Dignity, as far as company ethics and philosophy are concerned have to do with the how part of realizing goals than with anything else. Consequently, the company philosophy should be clear on what will be considered dignifying and what will not. For most companies, the main goal is maximizing profit though many of them realize that it will not be possible without upholding dignity. When scandals happen in a company, is it going to be covered up or will the company deal with the issue in a responsible manner?
Dealing with scandals and external conflicts and pressure on a company is one thing which must be done carefully or you risk destroying years of hard work. Do all you should to ensure that your customers and prospects are as proud of your company dealings as you are. In summary, the company’s ethics and philosophy should enhance dignity.
There is no substitute for hard work in business or any other achievement in life. It is one of the most important of all ethical business practices. We all have to do the heavy lifting to get the results we so much desire. Hard work is the backbone of every business and it must therefore be firmly settled in all business ethics and philosophy. When a company upholds and encourages hard work, it is inevitable that it prospers and expands. Setting this up may entail that you reward hardworking employees to encourage them.
Transparency and Honesty
Within and without the company, there needs to be transparency and honesty held as an ethical value and encouraged amongst workers. Businesses always deal with finances and transparency is one of the ethical issues in business without which monetary profit cannot be made. Proper management of finances and resources in general is vital to the prosperity of a business and its proper functioning. Transparency and honesty within the company should encourage workers to be more open with each other and straightforward in their dealings. out of the company, transparency demands that the public (especially for public companies) has whatever information is necessary about the company. Your loyal customers or clients should never be lost about information they may need to help them make important decisions.
With so many differences amongst people who have to work together on a daily basis to realize company long and short term goals, it is important that the company’s philosophy and ethical values encourage equality for all. There should be no prejudice with race, language, gender or other such issues that differentiate people. A business is sure to thrive and fair better if it’s philosophies and business ethics reveal a determination to set aside all manner of differences and prejudices. These are ethical issues in business that directly affect performance of workers and general productivity.
When workers understand that they cannot disrespect each other or worse still superior employees on the basis of these differences, they can be more productive and flexible with each other to maximize output.
An example of a company that build its philosophical framework around performance is the famous Adidas. Within their value statement, they state… “sport is the foundation for all we do and executional excellence is a core value of our group”.
Setting a standard for performance within a company’s ethical and philosophical framework is a great way to influence the business positively and attain goals. When a particular standard is set by a company and is encouraged by its vision statement like in the case of Adidas, workers think toward innovations that will support the big picture and encourage ideas are performance oriented. This makes it easy to follow through on plans and achieve set goals.
There is no joking around with this particular principle or other ethical issues in business. Whatever your company philosophy is, you need to make sure passion is clearly spelt out in it. Making business progress will be hard if workers are not passionate about their jobs, the products of the company or its services. Passion is the fuel that drives action. When passion is lacking in any of life’s endeavors, it becomes a burden.
It is true that we all need to make money and be more comfortable but that should not be the drive for your employees or the company and it should be made clear through the code of ethics and philosophy which guides your business. When that is established, it will guide you with making decisions regarding hiring workers as well as making promotions. All these decisions will directly influence your business.
Including quality within your company’s statement of philosophy or making it clear that it is part of its code of ethics will positively influence the way your business functions and determine its level of prosperity. Almost all companies with famous names involved in male and female wear have quality as one of the ideas that influence their performance or product quality. Whether directly or indirectly, most build their product designs with quality in mind. This determines and influences how much effort or resources they are willing to put in.
There are so many other companies competing for quality in the same line of business. Take Nike and Adidas for example; they are only competitors in the world of sport outfits because both companies have learnt to stay focused on quality throughout the years and this has been possible by holding on to tested ethical business practices. Making a decision to include quality as an idea behind your philosophies is important.
Company or business ethics and Philosophy and their importance
They Guide decision making
Every decision you make in the company, no matter how small they may seem are strictly guided by the company’s ethics and philosophy. This implies that the success of the business is closely related to the said ethics and social responsibility or philosophies. Whether hiring or firing workers, deciding on what new project to take on and where there is need for more finances to be invested, the decision makers reflect on the belief system of the company and make the decision on that platform.
Consequently, in hiring labor for example, a company may judge that using child labor is a way to minimize cost and make more profit. But as much as they would like to have the gain, the company’s policy may not give them the liberty to if it’s philosophy stands for morality and considers it to be immoral. Businesses that also strongly adhere to social equality in all its forms, whether with regards to gender, race or nationality will have people of different origins working together unlike one which holds bias against females or males or favors those of some nationality over others.
A business could also have charity as an important part of its philosophy. This will also favor decisions for more money or resources to be spent on charitable endeavors unlike a company which does not believe in it. So for the former, there will be need for a specific budget set aside and even more workers hired to meet that purpose.
On the other hand, the company that does not hold charitable works as part of its philosophy will not have the need or at least will not feel obligated to commit part of its resources to that purpose. If for any reason this company decides to get involved with services of charity, they will surely do it with less intensity and seriousness.
Financing decisions and company philosophy
Even the so called charity and non- profit organizations have to run cost effectively. There is usually need for finances to get to the next level and when the situation is critical, companies can accept financial assistance from just about any source. However, the company’s philosophy usually guides it’s decisions on who to partner with to finance the business and increase capital.
A company that believes in social and moral values will not accept financial aid or partnership no matter the convenience when it is coming from another company or organization that goes against everything they believe in and stand for. Let’s say company A needs to expand and they are looking forward to partnering with one or two other companies. Company A also strongly stand against social ills like child labor and abuse. At the time when the company is deciding which organization to partner with, they cannot get into an agreement with company B which takes advantage of cheap labor from children to fuel their company purpose. Company B may have a good deal to offer but it is unlikely that company A will accept to partner with them for the simple reason that they do not hold to the same ethics and social responsibility.
Again, a company whose philosophy is strongly in support of portraying quality and class will put in more resources to increase quality of goods, services, welfare of its employees and satisfaction of its customers.
It is therefore important that in stating a company’s philosophies, decision makers understand how it is going to influence the decisions they can or cannot take in the future. This is especially serious and important for partnerships and business forms that involve several people because making strategic decisions might become very complex.
Determines the way the company functions or operates
Companies, like individuals do not just act. There is always a reason for preferred action and those preferences are largely determined by the values, beliefs, philosophies and ethical business practices they hold dear. The actions and inactions of individuals and companies are therefore hinged on their belief system.
Production companies for example usually have a large chunk of waste that has to be properly disposed of every now and then. Theissue is, proper waste disposal is usually very costly and some company’s either do not have enough finances to do the right thing and still make maximum profit or they just don’t have the necessary motivation backed by their philosophy to do what should be done. Consequently, it is easier for such a company to be far less socially responsible in its choice of waste disposal than one which strongly holds itself responsible and accountable to the public by choosing to be openly and actively more environmentally friendly. Ethics and social responsibility for both companies are unequally important.
Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream for example states very clearly in their company value statement …. “we strive to minimize our negative impact on the environment”. Therefore, as they function daily, the company will be more sensitive to how their choices of operation and activities are either positively or negatively influencing the environment so necessary changes can be made.
H&M states in their value statement … “we are one team”. This helps management ensure that teamwork is always prioritized. Workers in such a company know at the back of their minds that accomplishing more together is far more important than personal gains and glory. As a result of better team work, there will be more productivity in the company.
Ethical values and philosophies determine the standards in internal and external relationships
The quality of relationships determines to a large extent the success of the company in its endeavors. Company decision makers will find that the philosophies of the business will either enhance or hinder working relationships within the company as well as the company’s relationships with its prospects. In a case where the company does not firmly believe in and practice respect and honor for individuals no matter their social status, it will lose customers and prospects pretty soon.
Setting up a system that honors and respects people is an important way to make whoever you are dealing with fall in love with your products or services. It is common sense that everyone wants to be treated with dignity and respect but not everyone wants to do the same for others. People remain loyal where they can sense a genuine interest in their wants and value for their personality.
Company Ethics and philosophy influences productivity and Business expansion
The overall progress of any company as well as the attainment of goals are closely related to the ethical principles and philosophies upon which the company is built. They guide decision making, determine the atmosphere and conditions under which the business thrives thus controlling pace and progress. These values are not just for the company owners or decision makers but for every single worker. From the guy at the gate to those occupying top floor offices, everyone has to work and order their activities around these principles and philosophies.
When these philosophies are right (and they most often are) and workers do their best to abide by them and uphold them, they will definitely help advance the course of the entire business.
They Determine those who constitute the labor force of the company
Even when workers have to be hired, decision makers have to reflect on company ethics and philosophies to help them decide who to bring and who to let go. Those who are hired must therefore in one way or the other have some basic understanding of company ethics and philosophies. This helps ensure that those who are brought in to be part of the company are actually willing to take the ride. Hence the company is more likely to hire people who have the same views and believe in the business code of ethics than one who does not.
Company ethics set the pace for progress in the business
All the above stated ways by which a company’s ethical values and philosophy influences the business are important for setting the pace for the business. What your workers are encouraged to believe in and work for determines how far the company or business will go. Plans, vision statements and goal are all dependent on and influenced by these beliefs and values.
In a few years’ time, wherever the company will be and whatever it must have been able to achieve will depend on the quality of its values and philosophies and how committed it was to upholding those ethics and social responsibility values they believe in.