What policies do you have in place to safe guard the safety of your business? Do you have measures in place to check you are operating with high ethical standards? Are you aware of the impact of poor ethics on your business? It sounds like a boring topic until your business gets slammed and profiled as running sub standard ethics.
Business leaders in some countries may argue this isn’t a relevant topic for the environment in which they operate but it nonetheless sets a benchmark for the sort of company you run and even limits the extent to which International businesses with high ethical standards will work with you.
As a CEO or person in leadership the onus is on you to ensure the right controls are in place for your business to perform optimally not just on internal targets but on its social responsibilities and performance in the external environment. For larger firms where it takes a village, focused departments on ethics and compliance are carved out to empower people make the right decisions and set the right initiatives to ensure the business operates with high standards.
Corporate Social Responsibility refers to the impact your business is making in the outside world and its compliance to areas of the law and national economic or international standard.
So what parts of your business feed into these areas?
Have you considered your I.T department and the effects of your business output on your employee and customer data security?
Recent events in the news about Facebook has forced a lot of companies into reviewing this area of their business, however it isn’t relevant to large corporate only. As a small to medium sized business, it is your corporate social responsibility to safe guard the privacy of employees and customers that trust your company enough to do business with you. Tighter controls on the systems and processes for communicating and enabling customer information as well as regular compliance training to raise awareness in your business and remind staff and vendors to be diligent when handling people or customer data are some effective ways to improve data security.
A second area of your corporate social responsibility that needs regular review is your Accounts department.
As a leader in your organisation are you aware of where all the money is going and how it’s been used and reported. We can review case studies of businesses that have had troubles due to poor accounting standards – Sybase, Micro Strategy, Computer Associates, Enron, Lehman Brothers, Worldcom….. A review of these companies would be a start but more pertinent is to have a proactive approach to being diligent about the accounting practices of your firm. Keep in mind that a lot of these large corporates have used other reputable firms to handle their account but still gotten into trouble. The key message here particularly for business leaders is to understand the practices and processes that govern their accounting principles and mobilise the right controls where gaps exist. This remains relevant for small to medium sized businesses as leaders monitor the financial performance of the firm.
The final part of the discussion that needs attention is your HR function.
This includes the ethics your business has in the areas of rewarding, developing and protecting people as well as encouraging a diverse and inclusive work force .
You’ve probably heard a lot of companies use the catch phrase “people are our greatest assets” Smart business is about engaging your workforce and creating an atmosphere that enables the people not only to help realise your targets but position you as a responsible company as well. The world more than ever before is paying a lot more attention to areas such as gender inequality, diversity and inclusion, so ensure you are conversant of this and feeding into your people management initiatives.
These three key departments – Technology, Accounts and HR are by no means the only important departments required to have a strong ethical focus in businesses. In a fast paced world where change and economical issues are prevalent, they are usually the most visible areas that flag the controls in place to show the company operates with high ethical standards.
On a final note, we learn something new everyday. If there are areas within your business that need improvement on ethics, start to initiate the steps today. Your customers may have picked up on this already and asking questions about certain areas. We have learned over the years about the importance of transparency on matters with clients and this can help build loyalty and strengthen your brand.
Do you need support for your business on ethics and compliance. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org today to utilise free consultancy services available to your business.
Are there other departments that need more focus to improve business ethical standards?
Leave us a comment, we would love to hear them.
Dee is a mum, business transformation coach and brand strategist. She has worked with Fortune 500 businesses on executing multi million dollar projects. She teaches Startups how to effectively launch and grow their business.