You and your colleagues provide a direct reflection of your company. Your combined behaviors represent the company’s culture. An ethical corporate culture promotes a strong, positive brand image, builds customer loyalty and can benefit the company financially. Employees working in an atmosphere founded on ethics might also be more motivated and committed to the company’s success. If your company’s culture needs some work, you could be a catalyst for change by serving as an example of good ethical behavior in your workplace.
Examples of good ethical work habits include recognizing and honoring company policies and respecting fellow employees. At home, an employee might have been taught to treat others as they would like to be treated. That advice works at work, too. Being honest, straightforward and taking accountability for errors also reflect positive ethical standards. When something goes wrong, playing the blame game counteracts productivity and can make you look dishonest. It is better to accept that an error was made and to provide ideas for correcting it.
Ethics in Sales
Good ethics in salespeople includes treating customers with respect, but respectfully denying their requests for gifts or services above and beyond what company policies allow. Salespeople should follow budget rules associated with travel, gifts and entertainment expenses. They should also win contracts based on the merit of their company’s offerings, without succumbing to expectations for bribes or kickbacks. If a competitor wins, accept the loss and move on to the next project or sale with your integrity and dignity intact.
Ethics in Purchasing
Purchasing department employees can demonstrate good ethics by not demanding their vendors under-bid themselves, respectfully declining offers of gifts, and paying for their own lunches and travel expenses. Award contracts based on the value of the product or service being offered, not based on which vendor can give you tickets to your favorite sporting events. Make sure quotes are fair, realistic and feasible before you accept them -- vendors offering the lowest bid could be hurting their own companies and yours, and might later be required to negotiate price increases or, worse, file for bankruptcy.
Face of the Company
Even off company property, it is important to remember you are a reflection of the company. You never know if a customer or competitor is seated at the next table in a restaurant or beside you on a plane. You can set a good example by keeping your public conversations about work positive and constructive. Never talk poorly about your company or your customers in public, and never divulge confidential information.
A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.