Ethics and values are eroding across a wide spectrum of government, organizational and corporate sectors around the world. Bribes, cheating, criminal behavior, sexual abuse and harassment are becoming commonplace. A nationwide survey on workplace ethics in 2011 opened with this startling statement, “Based on what we see now, we expect workplace ethics to decline.” That is a powerful and alarming comment, but it is based on solid research from the Ethics Resource Center.
It seems as if not a day passes by without a new story about ethical breakdowns. From doping athletes in baseball and cycling being stripped of titles and victories to politicians who behave as if sexual harassment and financial self-dealing are privileges of office, the stories are never-ending.
Why are ethics in decline for individuals and corporations?
The good news is that you can prevent ethical issues in your company by making ethical behavior a priority. Here are a few ways to create a culture of ethical behavior:
Consider this: your values actually create value for your company. Year after year, some of the world’s most admired companies, the best places to work and highest growth companies are those with clear corporate values demonstrated in the workplace.
Top ethical companies are in every industry: oil and gas exploration, healthcare and restaurants, Internet companies and financial service. There are a variety of rankings from Forbes, Ethisphere and others.
Ethisphere plainly states, “These companies also understand that a strong culture of ethics is also key to helping drive financial performance.”
Employees want to come to work every day more excited than the last – no one wants to dread going to work. Even tedious and repetitive tasks have a purpose larger than the action itself. A unified understanding of the key values applied to decision-making makes a difference. A deep commitment and belief in the mission of the company to delight customers, develop dedicated clients, solve problems and positively impact others is a value to be created, understood and shared. When the ethical line is blurred and values are questioned, employees stop believing in the company and taking pride in their job and its significance.
Your business or organizational culture is a conscious state of mind. It makes all the difference in the pride and accountability in each employee and how clients, customers or potential clients are treated in your organization. Culture is built on values, ethical expectations and behavior. Make your ethics and values real and watch the positive changes that flow from these clear and expressive centerpieces of your culture.
John Hammond said, “Character is the real foundation of all worthwhile success.” That applies to corporations and organizations as well as to individuals. Declining ethics and values need not be a prophecy fulfilled. Build your corporate character, explain and live your values and it is likely success will follow in more ways than you can imagine.
, the founder of the ForeTalk Seminar, is an accomplished financial planner, executive coach & keynote speaker. He is also author of ForeTalk: Taking Care of Tomorrow Today. As a finance professional, Stan enjoyed a 27-year career at Merrill Lynch, which included positions as National Sales Manager, Director of Global Sales for Defined Asset Funds & the First Vice President/Senior Director of the Office of Investment Performance. For more info, visit ForeTalkSeminar.com.
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