The DOs and DON'Ts of Business Ethics - Michael Connor
Ethics is defined by Webster’s as the moral principles which determine the rightness or wrongness of particular acts or activities. In laymen’s terms, ethics are about doing the right thing when you know nobody is watching. While all the staff employed at your business should demonstrate ethical behavior, it is most critical for your front-desk and finance personnel. These employees must be trustworthy and held accountable to the high standards that you set for them. They have access to your member’s names, social security numbers, addresses, signatures, and credit card numbers. In making an unethical choice they could cause significant damage to a member’s financial situation which would damage your reputation and business. Ethics need to be high on the list of desirable traits demonstrated by your staff.
An ethics-based workplace all starts with you. As an owner or manager you are the mentor that the staff looks up to. Your behavior is what will be repeated by all. But it’s not just your personal conduct that’s important. You need to instill an ethical environment at your workplace. Here are some suggested dos and don’ts.
- Have staff meetings on a regular basis. Talk about desirable behavior and give examples of unethical behavior. Allow the staff to discuss among themselves hypothetical situations in which they must make an ethical choice.
- Have an open-door policy and seriously consider all comments and complaints from the staff.
- Mentor your staff on accepting responsibility and not deflecting blame.
- Make sure there are adequate checks and balances within your finance department.
- Have clearly defined roles and responsibilities for all staff members.
- Treat your staff in the same ethical way that you expect them to treat your members.
- Trust your member’s personal information with Member Solutions. We have been certified as a Level One Service Provider under the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Level One is the highest ranking and carries the most stringent requirements. We set high ethical standards for our employees.
- Put undue pressure on the staff. They may bend under the pressure and turn toward unethical behavior to get the results you are demanding.
- Have a culture of fear or silence.
- Allow anyone to “pass the buck” or deflect blame for things that are within their responsibility.
Displaying ethical behavior will bring your business to new levels. Your staff will be proud to work in such an environment and such pride will be reflected on your members. The respect that your staff has for each other and for the members will be contagious and you will see careers and lives flourish.