The Business of Business Ethics: Part One

Amanda SchewagaBranding, Business, EntrepreneurshipLeave a Comment

Business Ethics

Business ethics and moving? We’re currently in the process of moving here at TMG Headquarters. This go-around is about the same as any other move we have gone through: hectic, exciting, and more than a little bit crazy! During the homebuying process, we ran into a bit of a hitch. This experience prompted me to reflect on business ethics and why they matter in the professional landscape. I want to take a moment to explore why it pays for your business to be ethical. I will also highlight the costs that come along with foregoing business ethics in favour of a more underhanded approach.

Stay tuned, I’ll be following this blog up with a second article that explores how best to bring the value of ethics to your business. For now, let me regale you with a tale of my recent experience with unethical professional practices and what got me thinking about how business should be done.

An Encounter of the Unethical Kind

My family and I had aligned on a verbal agreement with our builder on a new place to call home and we couldn’t be happier. The house had everything we wanted at a fair price – all we had to was sign on the dotted line. Three days later when we came to sign, we were told that in a short time the builder had changed their mind. They couldn’t offer us any of the upgrades they initially promised and they increased the price by $35K over our agreed-upon price.

If that sounds pretty shady, well, that’s because it is! Not only is acting unethically in business like this simply a bad look in the first place, but it also more times than not will cause you and your business real trouble in the long run, on a very fundamental level.

When You Walk the Walk, You Win in Business Ethics

The first ethical breach made by the builder in my particular circumstance is that they demonstrated they’re great at talking the talk, but when it came down to actually walking the walk – well, they showed up pretty short. They said they could do something but couldn’t deliver when the chips were down.

This is problematic for a number of reasons. I’d argue that the biggest one is the immediate breakdown in trust that resulted from the attempted strongarm move. Buying a home is the biggest purchase most people will make in their lifetimes. There’s a heightened expectation (and need!) for crystal-clear transparency.

The builder had the sale clinched – we were done negotiating, we were happy with the deal and the service we’d received. We were ready to move forward. After verbally agreeing on a deal, the builder changed the terms. In a miscalculated bid to squeeze a bit more profit out of the deal, they ended up losing the entire sale.

This brings me to my next point…

Verbal Agreements Matter in Business Ethics

Verbal accords are in fact legally binding and reneging on one is simply a bad practice. This is especially true when the deal includes an agreed-upon transaction!

This goes beyond my experience and applies to any instance you can care to imagine across the professional landscape. If you tell someone you’re going to do something (be they a client, a colleague, a co-worker, or anyone at all), you’d best have the intention of doing it! If you make an agreement with someone, but are relying on the fact that they haven’t physically signed a piece of paper as your loophole to shirk any responsibility for upholding your end of the deal – well, you may want to reconsider that approach.

While it might earn you something in the short term, it ends up costing you more in trust and reputation. Breaking trust will definitely come back to haunt you in the long run.

Play the Long Game in Ethics

No matter the size of your organization or the scope of your business, maintaining a sound reputation matters. It impacts your ability to retain talent, attract new business, and bring on quality hires. People want to work for and with a company that’s thought highly of. Now more than ever, people will actively vote with their dollar. They avoid a company that’s seen to take an unethical approach to how it treats its customers and employees.

When you’re plotting out the value system that your business will adhere to, it will absolutely pay to consider the long game and take an ethical approach to how your conduct yourself professionally. The internet’s made the world a pretty small place. Even a handful of untoward interactions with clients or staff can do big damage to your ongoing success.

Do right by your business (and your bottom line!) by practicing ethics in your professional life. Encourage a culture of honesty, accountability, and transparency in your organization.

Are strong ethical convictions important to you when it comes to which businesses you collaborate with? If so, you’ll be happy to know that steadfast ethics are engrained in our value system here at The Marketing Girl. Get in touch with us today and see how we can help you set the spark that will make your marketing dazzle!

Thanks for reading – and check back here soon for Part Two of our blog miniseries, The Business of Business Ethics!

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