Most entrepreneurs start out with an idea and a vision, one that will improve the world in some way. Perhaps by creating a product that fills a gap, or by creating a method to improve people’s lives, maybe one that will improve sustainability and help the environment.
To run this business, entrepreneurs need to know the basics, including accounting, marketing, product development, and branding. The vision required to start a company starts with a mission statement, goals to reach it, and strategies to accomplish the goals. The mathematical and technical facets of business management are important, but ethics also make up a critical part.
The decisions businesses make impact real people in real ways, so companies need to look at these effects alongside the data and foresight they have in mind.
Most startup companies take out loans for their initial funding and have to turn their deficit into a profit in the first few years or else they’ll fail. Once the goal turns from trying to stay afloat to maintaining a steady profit, it then goes to trying to increase success.
Though homegrown businesses might at times reach a point where the founder is happy with the growth and doesn’t feel the need to grow more, it’s typically the case that businesses are always reaching for the next level of growth. This means that once a business is stable, it will try to beat out the competition and become the best company available
For businesses to reach this international success, they need to figure out how to acquire brand loyalty. To do this, businesses need to build and practice elements of having a positive reputation with the public, including:
- Being available to the public
- Practicing empathy and emotion
- Projecting a consistent image
- Committing deeply to positive actions
Ethics in Business?
It would seem that businesses have acquired their own code of ethics to reach this kind of success. Though small business owners are more likely to have personal relationships with their employees and be more inclined to help them, as businesses grow, the distance between employers and employees does, too. This makes it easier for companies to overlook their employee’s needs in order to maintain the needs of the company.
“Business isn’t personal,” is a common saying, but it’s not so simple. Though many think that businesses have their own code of ethics to follow, this is not true, according to Forbes. As stated by the business magazine, business ethics are no different than regular ethics, and companies should keep the following principles in mind:
- Do no harm
- Make things better
- Respect others
- Be fair
How Businesses Violate the Principles of Ethics
Of course, it is true that some companies always bear in mind the interest of their employees, no matter how large they become. As a pattern, however, it is more common for corporations to violate the codes of ethics by not caring for and even mistreating its employees, not keeping environmental interests in mind, and disregarding negative effects of their product or service.
In business, outsourcing tasks to outside companies is standard for services that the company can’t produce. However, with an increase of globalization, many companies have started to send departments overseas to lower labor costs. This often entails laying off employees in the original country and underpaying new employees in the other one.
In the city of Boise, ID, the company Micron did just that. On the same day the company announced it was making a 91 percent increase in sales — a record $5.1 billion — they informed a few hundred employees that their jobs would be terminated and essentially transferred to Taiwan. Some employees were offered several months of work, while others were told not to come in on Monday.
Taking Care of its Employees
Across the world, employees struggle to make a living wage despite working for multi-billion dollar corporations. In order to keep profits high and costs low, it seems that too few companies are willing to offer their workers decent benefits.
However, as reported by the Huffington Post, the companies that pay their employees the least are by no means struggling start-ups: Walmart, Yum! Brands Inc. (including Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut), and McDonalds — three of the wealthiest companies in the United States and they are well known for paying low wages.
Though we live in one of the safest and healthiest times in the history of humanity, there are many health concerns around that make it seem like the opposite is true. Most of our food is pre-filled with sugar, sodium, and artificial ingredients. Microplastics are flooding our drinking water supplies. Even the medicine we take can do more harm than good because it benefits pharmaceutical companies.
How to Find a Solution
Pulling on each end of the spectrum are the needs of the company and the needs of the people. Which is more important? It is certainly clear which is more prominent in daily action. Huge corporations virtually always take money over anything else that might matter.
Finding a solution starts with awareness and education of each individual problem. Though it shouldn’t be the job of the public to reign in the harm of corporations, those corporations couldn’t exist without consumers. Voicing educated opinions and supporting well-rounded companies rather than thoughtless chains could make a difference.
The next step is founding companies based on ethical foundations. The more awareness that is spread, the more likely we are to have forward thinking entrepreneurs whose bottom line isn’t money, but the well-being of the planet and its inhabitants. New entrepreneurs can make a change by implementing better processes. This can be done by identifying and avoiding the current mistakes that companies make.
Lastly, when desperate measures need to be taken, boycotting harmful companies is oftentimes effective. Recently, in the light of gun reform, consumers have put pressure on companies associated with the NRA to cut their ties. It has resulted in companies disassociating with the NRA as well as gun sellers changing the way they sell guns to help implement safety.
Although business decisions can be hard to make, and sometimes difficult choices need to be made, all businesses should be held accountable for their actions. The world we live in and the people we love who are affected by these actions are too important to let it slide. There is no such thing as business ethics. Ethics are non-negotiable, and no company, no matter the size, is exempt.
Photos are from pxhere Creative Commons
Guest Author Bio
Geo Sique is a writer from Boise, ID with a bachelor’s’ degrees in Communication and French and a background in journalism. When she’s not travelling outside Idaho, she loves rock climbing, hot springs, camping, and exploring the world around her.
Website: Georgette Siqueiros