In these difficult times, it could seem like a bit of a luxury to talk about the ethical culture of your business. You’re flat out trying to keep all the plates spinning, right?  Most of us believe we are ethical – it’s basically about doing the right thing – but we feel we haven’t got time to sit and think about it.

In reality, ethics is not a lofty ivory tower concept, but is woven into every part of our lives. Ethical decisions – or the lack of them – are what get us all talking about sport, politics and reality TV.  They are also present in our relationships and our businesses. 

In the Governance Institute of Australia’s most recent 2019 Ethics Index, 54% of Australians surveyed said that they had personally faced an ethical dilemma. 

Interestingly, having faced that dilemma and made a decision, more than one in four (27%) said that they would now change that decision. The most common reason for the desire to change the decision was that hindsight allowed them to see it differently now. The second most common reason was not having enough information available at the time. 

Regretting a decision in our business is something we all want to avoid. Establishing the right ethical framework to run your company and help you make decisions that you can live with now and into the future could be a worthwhile investment of a little bit of time and thought. 

According to The Ethics Centre, a strong ethical culture is essential to achieving something that strikes at the heart of every business owner – driving superior, long-term performance – driving behaviour, innovation, and every decision from hiring, through to partnerships and customer service.

The Ethics Centre’s new, free guide produced especially for SMEs goes beyond broad theory to offer practical, step-by-step guidance and tools to build a stronger, better business. It provides straightforward ways to define and apply your own Purpose, Values and Principles in your business. 

Put simply, the Purpose defines why you are in business and what it was set up to achieve; Values are about what guide the business’ actions and behaviours; and Principles are how the business gets the things it thinks are good. 

An ethical approach is there to enhance a business, not stifle it. It can give you a framework to help you not only define what your company is about, for yourself, your staff and customers; but also to help you to solve the inevitable dilemmas that come up in every business.