What is ethics ?
If you no longer remember your philosophy lessons, ethics is a set of values and recommendations justifying the implementation of behaviors deemed morally acceptable. Ethics refers to a value judgment, depending on the level of morality of an action or behavior.
What does corporate ethics go through ?
Business ethics ask questions of different kinds. Whether it is human resources, management, overall company policy etc. ethics comes at all levels. And business leaders have to pay special attention to it. Often implicit, ethics can also materialize in the form of written rules accepted by employees. This is the case for corporate charters, for example.
In everyday life, you don’t necessarily think about ethics. This was mainly instilled at the time of the creation of the company, which is based on a set of values. This is what founds what is called.
Valuing ethics in companies, what benefits ?
By choosing to implement an ethical approach, the company knows that it has everything to gain: credibility, improvement of social dialogue, notoriety, positive image, positioning of advantageous strategy etc… Ethics is therefore not to be distinguished from business !
But the benefits of implementing real business ethics go further and come at all levels of society. Here are some examples :
Improve management methods and harmonize behaviors
On the side of managers, clients or even collaborators, ethics implies that everyone knows what their share of responsibility is and the impact of their actions. This is the way to challenge yourself to see how, at its level, we can participate in an evolution of the company on great values of the order of ethics.
Thinking in project mode
It is clear that if you market products or services, ethics can be a business argument. Provided it’s not just words, of course. But more importantly, ethics use a well-known scheme: the “tetrahedron project. In a way a four-sided figure who defines the 4 complementary objectives of any professional project: result, resources, risks, deadlines. By defining a real ethical axis, we make the objectives to be achieved more concrete and we favor the “project mode” in business. A new way of looking at things that boost productivity !
Create value and build the confidence of your customers
Beyond the value of the product or service that you put forward, ethical value is either a plus or an absolute necessity. In some areas of activity, ethics has become criterion 1.
Perfect your brand image
For a company, keeping a good brand image depends on two main criteria: having a commercial responsibility on the one hand (being present to answer questions from its customers, have good after-sales service etc.), and develop social responsibility on the other hand (commit to the environment, the social inclusion of minorities etc. All this taking into account the imperatives of competitiveness and the economic context.
The implementation of an ethical approach in companies is necessarily done in connection with the overall policy of the company. The two feed each other. Betting on ethics therefore means strengthening the values that make your business exist. But beware, this requires concrete and progressive actions. It is not a question of working on the ethical image, but rather all the actions that can be carried out, at all levels of the company and above all, over the long term
How to build a professional ethics approach ?
Step 1: Carry out a situation audit / evaluation
Now is the time to take stock of everything that fishes in ethics. But also – and this should not be overlooked – to highlight everything that works. Even if you want to start all of your business policy over again, it is important to know what values are the foundations of your business ethics.
Who can participate in the evaluation ? Everyone can and must participate: managers, managers, employees … Everyone will bring a different point of view and will report on the dysfunctions that concern their work environment.
The purpose of this meeting is to come out with specific commitments. While taking into account the economic, social and human imperatives that are part of the reality of the business. Do not hesitate to make this exchange last so that everyone is heard. You will strengthen the feeling of confidence of your collaborators. You also help skeptics to accept the fundamental changes that will take place.
Step 2: Put your commitments in writing
It’s time to engrave your brand new ethical axis in stone. And since the value of writing is also part of ethics, that’s good ! By writing a charter, a guide to good practice or even a code of conduct, you sign a moral contract with your employees, suppliers, etc…
The guide to good practice remains the most comprehensive document. Generally, it is divided into sub-parts which concern the various departments of the company. Contextualization facilitates assimilation by new employees for example. The charter focuses on values. It has a relatively strong moral value but does not give concrete indications to a person outside the company. The code of conduct complements it by highlighting good practices. Because if values are important, respecting them on a daily basis is even more so !
Step 3: Disseminate your ethical commitment
Now that it is shaped, you will be able to communicate around your new ethical axis. This is where internal communication comes in: the goal is to make your reference document (charter, code of conduct, guide to good practice) attractive. Rather than sending it individually to your collaborators, organize a meeting in which you present the work carried out. Also play on the visual aspect, not only in the document but also via promotional materials (posters, interactive mail, etc.).
If you have an ethics officer in your company, it’s even better, because the company’s awareness and training mission does not stop at setting up charters. It must be done regularly in order to keep the actions of the company within the limits that it has set up itself based on ethics.