Legal Issues Pertaining to Sweeping
Ethics: Does Your Organization Have It?
As we enter a more socially responsible age of greater caring for others, this factor may count for more than you think.by Ranger Kidwell-Ross and Naz Doud
My local news tonight included the surprising information that researchers have concluded that Americans lie on an average of four times each day.
Since that statistic must necessarily take into account all the people who are striving to tell the truth, act legally and responsibly, etc., then it implies there are quite a number of people who lie on a regular basis, as a natural course of action. Unfortunately, some number of them do so as an integral part of running their business.
We all know there are unethical businesses out there. I know from my experience that some are in the power sweeping industry. However, for some very good reasons, dishonest choices can only be a detriment to any organization's overall, long-term business plan.
When you don't treat everyone around you honestly -- from employees to vendors to customers -- in the long run it will cost you money, stature and, most importantly, both your personal reputation and that of your company.
When employees work in an atmosphere of dishonesty by management, productivity declines and quality suffers. Ultimately, your best workers will go elsewhere, leaving you with only the sub-par performers to whom the term 'ethics' is not as important as the word 'paycheck.' Unfortunately for you and your business, these are also the people for whom the words 'quality performance' are not as important as 'do a poor job and go home.'
Most would agree that the best way to expand a business is through word of mouth by satisfied customers and others. The fact is, however, that when prospects and customers learn a business is being operated unethically, they tend to spread the news far and wide, and do so without prompting. Inevitably, they tell many more people about ethical lapses and poor performance than they do when the same company's service and ethics are great.
Often, general knowledge that a current provider is perceived as unethical and/or uncaring about its customers and its industry becomes the catalyst for competitors entering the field. These are oftentimes headed by savvy businesspeople who know the value of great customer support and service, as well as in doing good works in the community and industry. In drastic cases, when your business is exposed as being unethical it can even create a mass exodus of customers to other suppliers and result in a general boycotting of your firm.
Early in my career, I once consulted for a company that sold hot water heating solar panels that, at the time, carried a 50% federal tax credit. The sales team members had a flip-chart and canned presentation they showed to an average of five prospects per day. In large part because of the tax credit, the average closing rate hovered around 70% on the $5000 ticket items.
In heavily wooded Washington State, some prospects were naturally concerned about whether the south side of their roof would get enough sun to get a decent payback on their investment. The salesmen assured them of what they'd been told by management: "Our 'installation pros' will do an analysis of the length of sun exposure and give them their money back and not install the panel if the proper threshhold wasn't met." That's what management had assured them was the truth.
However, that wasn't the case. In order to make more money, the unscrupulous president of the company had actually instructed the installers to install each and every panel sold, "no matter what the situation." He also took great care to keep installers and salesmen separate. Some months into the program, and just before they'd called me, the inevitable occurred: One of the salesmen found out what was happening and told the rest of the sales team.
Upon learning the truth, the sales team's closing rate dropped to under 5%. Same flip-chart, same words being said. What they wanted me to do, as a sales consultant, was to 'fix it.' Without a fundamental change in how the company was being operated, I declined.
Business Ethics And Purpose
The following brief article, written by UK-based, Naz Doud, offers a host of important reasons why ethics are important in business. As you read it, I encourage you to think of changes you might make in your own firm to operate it in an even more ethical and responsible manner than you are today.
The purpose of business is to generate maximum returns for its owners and shareholders. So, therefore, should the business pursue all activities that enhance profitability and increase the value of the business for the owners and / or shareholders? In today's business climate, the answer is a resounding 'No.'
It is also increasingly important that a business behaves ethically in achieving the above purpose. And, it is not right just to operate within the letter of the law. Businesses are finding increased value by finding ways to serve their local communities, and by helping its employees lead better lives. Today, managers should examine every decision they make based on profitability, yes, but also in tterms of long-term business value and social responsibility.
By having real policies in place that take care of your employees and the local community it might be argued that, long term, this will enhance your business brand and over time lead to higher profitability.
By constantly training members of staff to be socially and ethically responsible combined with, wherever possible, promoting from within the organisation, will lead to employees that feel empowered to work harder and make better decisions. Having regards to the true wellbeing of your employees will lead to a healthier and therefore happier workforce.
You will also find other side benefits to taking responsible action. For example, by reducing waste and promoting recycling at every opportunity, overheads will be reduced and in the longer term it will lead to better shareholder value. It is staggering how much resources, including energy, are wasted by companies that have not audited the possible changes they could make in this regard. Having a regular energy audit and investing long term to reduce demand can only serve to make the business more efficient.
Many businesses try to serve their community by supporting local charities and sponsoring local people to better their lives. There are many ways to do this including education, sports and the environment. In the short term there will be very few perceivable benefits in terms of profitability, but these actions will serve to enhance the business brand and increase profitability over the longer term.
Greed is no longer seen as 'good,' and focusing purely on profits is unacceptable to your existing and potential customers. By embracing business ethics and social responsibility the business can benefit from the increased profits produced by increased goodwill.
If you have questions or comments about this article, please let us know.