Ethical business practices are actions performed and attitudes held by a business and its employees that are considered professionally and morally responsible. These types of practices typically seek to promote the goals of the company without sacrificing the common good of its employees, customers, and even competitors. This often includes programs to ensure fair hiring and promotion within a company, treating customers fairly, and being honest in regard to programs to increase sales. Ethical practices are often initiated as a “top down” program, with corporate officers and the heads of the company acting as role models of behavior for other employees.
For many companies, ethical business practices do not have to disrupt the pursuit of profits and professional growth. There is often an incorrect assumption that a business should do anything to make money and get ahead, but many companies have been successful while still acting in a way that is ethical and serves the common good as well as the corporate good. These sorts of business practices can begin with programs that donate money to charities or other needy organizations, and extend to how customers and employees are treated by a company.
Many ethical business practices are related to how employees within a company are hired, treated, and promoted. This often includes policies that discourage discrimination, attempt to avoid issues regarding fraternization between different levels of employees, and seek to find fair ways to settle conflict within the company. These practices also often include ensuring employees are given reasonable working conditions, are treated with respect, and have any investments toward retirement protected appropriately.
These practices often include treating customers with respect and honesty, not using personal information provided by customers in unscrupulous ways, and charging customers fairly for goods or services. When these types of practices are not observed or are broken, many customers show their dissatisfaction by no longer giving the company their business.
One of the best ways to implement and ensure the proper establishment of ethical business practices is as a “top down” program. Those at the top of a company are often seen as professional role models for other employees, and if they are acting in a way that is unethical, many lower level employees will follow suit. This can lead to additional costs to a company due to theft, reduced productivity, and potential lawsuits. There may also be negative consequences for the value of a publicly traded company if the officers in charge of the company are unethical.