When Phil and I set up the3rdi magazine we were keen that the business was built on ethical foundations.
We are committed to giving 10% of subscription and advertising revenue to charity. We feature champions in this area of business alongside entrepreneurs and millionaires.
We feature regular input from businesses who in large and small ways are trying to have a positive global impact.
This is very important. That the business looks at the big picture and makes a firm statement as to it’s ethical position.
But what of the day to day operation of a business?
According to wikipedia, business ethics is a form of applied ethics that examines ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that arise in a business environment. It applies to all aspects of business conduct and is relevant to the conduct of individuals and business organizations as a whole.
The key thing in the definition, I think, is that business ethics “applies to all aspects of business conduct.”
While I think that it is important that every business re-visits its vision and mission statements regularly this is not why have I been thinking particularly about business ethics right now.
Over the past few weeks I have been looking around, using my networks and social-networks, to find companies able and willing to help with various aspects of our business growth. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as providing great ways to keep in contact with friends and with what’s going on in the world, are great places to promote a business, so I’m told.
And on the face of it that is true. The world of social media is crammed full of companies and individuals promising that they can do anything…and do most of that for nothing.
However my experience is, in the words of the Bard of Avon, “ all that glisters is not gold “ and that those that promise most deliver least.
I have been amazed at the number of broken promises. Quotations that don’t arrive and those that do are late and even those are little more than standard sentences cut from a bland list of options and pasted together to look like a personalised quotation.
And the lack of urgency is mind boggling. We are supposed to be in a recession yet the phrase…”I’ll get that to you by the end of the week” is starting to haunt me. Unless it is a Thursday, in which case the end of the week is fine, what is wrong with “I’ll have that to you by the end of the day” or “I’ll have that to you by tomorrow”.
And when the quotation finally arrives…….nothing! No follow up call. Nothing.
Now, I know that this could be parcelled up as poor business practice rather than poor business ethics but my point is that these things are the same. Poor business practice is poor business conduct.
Good business ethics are not something that should be written in the mission statement and then forgotten about. It is something that should be an integral part of the day to day operation of the business.
In a nutshell if you promise to deliver then you had better deliver. If you post on every social network that you are “the best” then you had better be prepared to be the best, or at least to TRY to be the best.
Good business ethics is simply doing what you say you will do.