Bringing business ethics and social responsibility into the workplace

To ensure good business ethics and social responsibility, many companies establish an ethics management program that aligns with their mission, vision, and values. 

To ensure good business ethics and social responsibility, many companies establish an ethics management program that aligns with their mission, vision, and values. Each ethics program is unique to the organization. A corporate ethics program is designed to teach employees the values and policies which set the behavioural standard for those who work and in and around the company.

A company’s mission, vision, and values form an ideology that describes the highest set of values that a company operates under. They describe the types of thoughts and behaviours that employees and other stakeholders should aspire to. A formal code of ethics is a little different. It’s a policy that states what employees and others should not do. A code of ethics is specific to those who work under it. For large companies, they may establish specific codes of ethics for individual departments and have one general code of ethics that everyone must abide by.

Human resource departments and legal departments typically collaborate on devising an appropriate code of ethics. At the same time, codes of ethics are more than a legal mechanism. Ethical behaviour is part of the corporate culture, and the appropriate language and behaviour start at the top.

Social responsibility in business

We live in a more socially responsible period than ever before. Corporate social responsibility is connected to what today’s companies call ESG—environmental, social, and governance. ESG is a practice that incorporates sustainability into a company business model.

Companies that embrace ESG find that it improves their brand and ultimately increases profitability. Customers of today are more inclined to buy from socially responsible companies, and employees are more interested in working for socially responsible companies. In research by Cone Communications, the study found that over 60% of Americans looked favourably on companies that pursued social and environmental change, whether it was regulated or not. Almost 90% of consumers in the survey indicated they’d be inclined to purchase a particular product if it supported an issue that was close to their heart. The study also showed that 75% of consumers refused to buy anything from a company if it supported an issue they were against.

As the economy improves, society is beginning to expect corporations to give back to their environments and communities. Besides going a long way to boost a company’s branding and image, sustainable practices can aid the financial bottom line. Using less packaging and less energy in production helps to reduce production costs and increase revenue.

There are four general and specific ways that companies can join their efforts between business ethics and social responsibility. They include:

  1. Environmental efforts
  2. Philanthropy
  3. Ethical labor practices
  4. Volunteering

The expectations for good business ethics and corporate social responsibility are at an all-time high and continually growing. To ensure that your company’s efforts are seen as genuine, it’s important to review your expectations to ensure they dovetail with the company’s mission and vision.

Lena Eisenstein, Marketing Associate - Product Marketing, BoardEffect

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